This winter season's warmer temperatures, although embraced by communities across New England, have actually had negative effects on this year’s wildfire season. A recent brush fire that occurred in Brimfield, MA., along with others in neighboring towns and states, are underscoring the threat these fires pose to homes and properties across New England. A lack of snowpack, warmer temperatures, high winds and excess tree debris from last year’s devastating tornado and October blizzard have only contributed to the dangerous fire conditions that experts predict will continue into the Spring.
The Firewise Communities Program wants residents to know that there are efforts that they can make to help protect their homes from the threat of wildfire, because wildfire doesn’t have to burn everything in its path. In fact, cleaning your property of dead leaves, needles and branches, and maintaining your landscaping are extremely vital first steps. Here are just a few ways that you can help to reduce the risk of your home and property becoming fuel for a wildfire:
- Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
- Create a “fire-free” area within five feet of the home, using non-flammable landscaping materials such as rocks, pavers and/or high-moisture content annuals and perennials.
- Remove dead vegetation from under your deck and within 10 feet of the house.
- Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane canisters, dry vegetation) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
Learn more about how to keep your family safe and reduce your home’s risk for wildfire damage at www.firewise.org. Many resources are free and complementary brochures, booklets, pamphlets, and videos can be found on the “information and resources” page of the website and ordered online through the Firewise catalog.