Wildfire on the Homestead


| 8/26/2016 2:35:00 PM


Tags: emergency preparedness, wild fire, renee benoit, california,

Renee-Lucie BenoitWe were at a movie yesterday where there was a rancher herding his cattle across the road with a wildfire closing in. It reminded me of the days when we were at the ranch and we would watch anxiously as billows of smoke erupted in the hills above. Would the wind change? Should we evacuate now?

Today as much as ever, the specter of wildfire looms. When I kept my horses at a pasture outside a large metropolitan area, we were not safe from wildfires. Twice we experienced the threat, and twice we managed to escape. Those times marshaled us into coming up with a plan to escape should it ever happen again.

Here are my tips to help you decide what you're going to do:

Number one is preparation. Preparation means creating a defensible space around your homestead. Clear out all brush and combustible materials at least 100 feet away from buildings. Here's something remarkable: I've toured a few fire disaster scenes, and the thing is you'll see buildings burned to the ground right next to completely unscathed ones. What's the difference?

The difference is preparation. The buildings that escaped had defensible space. This includes no dead leaves on the roof; no firewood stacked next to the outside wall. Many homes burn because there is firewood right next to the front door on the wooden deck. This spells disaster if a wildfire ever strikes.

It makes a difference if the trees you have around your house are pine or hardwood. Hardwood resists burning. This is why resinous wood in your woodstove doesn't last as long as hard wood. The ignition point is lower than hardwood. If you have pine trees, trim them up as high as possible. Sometimes there will be a "crown fire," which is a hot fire that races through the tops of the trees. The fire burns right past your structures and leaves them alone. But not if embers from the trees drop on to your unprepared home.




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