With the leaves slowly turning orange, ballet flats being replaced with riding boots and pumpkin spice lattes warming up everyone’s hands, there’s no denying it’s the beginning of fall. And what better state to experience it all than Oregon—the state with fall weather almost throughout the entire year—to highlight for this week’s Firewise blogpost.
Rimrock West, a subdivision in the Deschutes River canyon was densely packed with juniper and pine and entwined with thick brush and grass, which wouldn’t have been a major concern if not for the flammability of the vegetation and its close proximity to houses in the community. Around 40 homes sit on narrow roads with only one access road—which makes a quick evacuation for all the residents during a potential wildfire nearly impossible.
Every year, property owners tried to reduce the fire risk by raking up dead and dry plants. But these efforts alone would not be enough to save their homes in the event of a wildfire. So Oregon’s Department of Forestry (ODF), Bend Fire and Rescue and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducted a fire safety assessment and were able to list all the potential risks.
Most of Rimrock West’s houses were built over 30 years ago when they were required to have wood shake roofs. These wood roofs are most vulnerable during a wildfire because of flying embers from the flammable overgrown brush and vegetation. The residents were quick to find a solution for this. With the help of the Firewise Communities/USA Program tips, they cleared up their yards to help interrupt the fuel pathways from the brush to their homes, and pruned all low hanging limbs from trees.
And now, at least 91 percent of Rimrock West's resident homes meet Firewise standards.
For all their hard work, the community received their Firewise Community status and a National Fire Plan $5,000 matching grant.
Read more about Rimrock West’s efforts on the Firewise stories page.
In addition, there are other communities in Oregon that really worked tirelessly to earn Firewise status. Read all about their efforts! The communities are: