Written by: Jon Gailis
The urban wildfires of 2020 demonstrated that uncontrolled fire doesn’t just happen in the forest. Urban wildfire is a threat to all cities in the Rogue Valley. Jacksonville is no exception. Are you doing your part to help make your town fire resistant?
A well maintained property is not only pleasant to view, it shows that the resident cares about their community and what happens in it. Regular yard maintenance can mean the difference between returning a home, or to a pile of rubble and ash after a wildfire.
Creating a fire-resistant property requires diligence, but it isn’t difficult or complicated. A properly prepared property is defensible and less likely to burn. If you have done your part firefighters are likely to attempt to save it. Your efforts could even save the neighborhood.
Start close to your home. Mow grasses, keep landscaping well watered. Clean out gutters, remove dry, dead and easily combustible vegetation. Enclose spaces that can collect dry debris. Get rid of anything that can burn and allow fire near your home. Trim trees up high and away your structures. If needed, remove them. Ideally extend this zone 20-30 feet out away from your home. It is important and provides a crucial buffer to fire spread. Remember, you’re trying to create space where nothing can easily burn without continuous fuel pathways that help fire move.
Jacksonville provides a great habitat for many plants that help spread wildfire. Have you considered what sort of vegetation is on or near your property?
Invasive non-native Himalayan blackberries may tempt you to keep it with fruit, but it grows quick, spreads and burns rapidly when ignited. Resinous evergreens like Leyland Cypress trees grow to extreme proportions. These trees pose a substantial fire hazard. Instead of a lush green plant or attractive privacy hedge, they should be viewed as walls of fuel, a fire expressway. When fire reaches these kinds of vegetation, it will grow and spread explosively. If you have plants like these, consider removing them and replacing them with less combustible alternatives.
In the event that a fire does threaten your home, do you have a plan? If you had five minutes to gather important items and evacuate, what would you take? Think about it now, before the crisis. Be ready to go. Hopefully you won’t ever have to evacuate, but think about how you would do it now.
If you have questions, the National Fire Protection Agency’s Firewise program (www.firewise.org) and the The Jacksonville Fire Department, 180 N 3rd St are both great resources. Help keep your home and our community safe as we approach this fire season.
About the Author: Jon Gailis has been volunteer firefighter for 10 years with the Jacksonville Fire Department. He loves fixing things and helping out around Jacksonville.