How to Create a Fire Break

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While the warm, dry weather this season has been welcomed by many sun lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest, this summer’s uncharacteristically hot temperatures have created conditions
perfect for wildfires to rage throughout Oregon and Washington. Thousands of acres have burned and homes have been lost in wildfires across these states. Although these fires are typical in sparsely populated areas, it’s nevertheless a good reminder of the kind of destruction fire is capable of.

In the Northwest, we love our trees, especially around our homes. The more mature the tree, the more lush and green our property is and the more we enjoy the space. However, in warm, dry weather, this can create the perfect fuel for fires that can threaten a home. The best way for homeowners to reduce the risk of a fire on or around their property is to take a page from the wildland firefighter’s playbook. When landscaping your property, consider creating a firebreak.

Creating a Fire Break on Your Property

Manicured_fire-break_-_geograph.org.uk_-_337486What exactly is a fire break? To put it simply, it’s a gap in the the vegetation that fuels a fire, creating a barrier that hopefully stops it from spreading. This doesn’t mean you need to dig a dirt trench around the home, however. You can build a fire break around your property that fits in with the landscape. In the area immediately adjacent to your home, think non or low combustible. Concrete, paving stones and gravel are great non-combustible options. Moist, low-growing vegetation such as grass and short evergreen shrubs can also be incorporated to create a good defense against a spreading fire. Trees should be trimmed six to ten feet from the ground, and any groups of trees growing close together should be thinned to no more than ten feet apart. It’s recommended that tall trees be no closer than 30 feet away from the home, but if this is not feasible it’s even more important to follow the other recommendations. Dead or dying trees are excellent fuel for fires that could easily turn into towering infernos – these should definitely be removed. Also, if you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace and store firewood, be sure not to stack it against the house or any other nearby structures.

ArborPro Tree Experts offer tree trimming and tree removal service in Portland and surrounding areas like Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Sherwood, West Linn, Happy Valley, Oregon City, Gresham, Hillsboro, and more. If you need help creating a fire break on your property, contact us today at 503-473-TREE to schedule a free estimate.

Forest Fire photo by Bureau of Land Management (20120727-LavaFire-006) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Fire Break photos by Gordon Brown [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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