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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT NEWS RELEASE
Central California District
 
Release Date: 04/25/12
Contacts: David Christy , (916) 941-3146  
News Release No. CA-CC-12-52

Agencies Urge Homeowners to "Take Responsibility" During Wildfire Awareness Week


Resource agencies in the Owens Valley are using Wildfire Awareness Week, May 6-12, to not only remind Californians of the dangers wildfires pose, but also to educate homeowners on defensible space.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Bishop Field Office and the Inyo National Forest remind residents to "Take Responsibility" for creating and maintaining 100 feet of clean, open space around their homes to reduce fire danger and the risk of fires spreading.

"By using non-combustible building materials and fire resistant plants in landscaping, homeowners can increase the chances of their home surviving a wildfire," said Bernadette Lovato, BLM Bishop Field Office manager. "By taking action now, homeowners can prepare themselves before fire season begins." Here are some actions homeowners can take:

Defensible Space:

  • Create a fire-safe landscape zone ranging from 30 to 100 feet around the home.
  • Plant only fire-resistant shrubs and trees. For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.
  • Create "fuel breaks," such as driveways and gravel walkways.
  • Remove ground fuels like grass, leaves, pine needles, dead limbs and twigs within 30 feet of the home. Clear all flammable vegetation and other materials. Remove branches that extend over the roof or power lines. Mow grass regularly.
  • Trim all dead branches from trees in the yard and prune low hanging limbs to prevent fire from climbing to the crowns of the trees.

Harden the Home:

  • Use fire-resistant roofing material, such as ceramic or slate tile, or standing-seam metal roofing.
  • Protect the home’s eaves with stucco or plaster to prevent flying embers from starting a fire. Consider designing the home without overhangs or use fire-resistant soffits to protect it from embers and hot gases.
  • Ensure that exterior wall coverings are fire-resistant and not susceptible to melting. Concrete, fiber-cement panels or siding, stucco, masonry and metal are some recommended materials.
  • Use metal mesh screens to keep fast-flying embers out of vents and chimneys. Vents should also be made of metal.

The "Home Builder’s Guide to Construction in Wildfire Zones," www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=3646, provides excellent information about wildfire behavior and recommendations for building design and construction methods in areas prone to wildfires. Additional information on preparing homes and families from wildfire threats is at http://takeresponsibility.com/.

While this week is a good reminder, fire prevention is crucial year round in the Owens Valley. For further information contact Debra Hein, interagency fire mitigation specialist, at (760) 872-5057.




--BLM--

Central California District   5152 Hillsdale Circle      El Dorado Hills, CA 95762  

Last updated: 05-02-2012