By S.E. Slack
Dry and windy conditions dramatically increase the chance of a wildfire. It only takes a spark to consume thousands of acres and destroy hundreds of homes, as residents near the Big D and other major cities can attest. State fire officials say homes that are surrounded by a defensible space of at least 30 feet are more likely to be saved when flames are bearing down.
Ohio homeowners are taking their cues from those caught in the latest wildfires out West and performing a bit of prep work on their property to keep it as safe as possible during the fire season. Experts say that by creating defensible zones around your home, you can create a higher probability that fire will skip your home and race to another instead.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says two key factors have emerged as the primary methods to ensure a home's ability to survive wildfire: The quality of the "defensible space" surrounding it and the home's roofing material.
It’s helpful to think of your home as the center of multiple circles, say experts. At 30-foot intervals from your home, think carefully about combustible materials and whether they could be added fuel for a wildfire bearing down on your home. Start close to the home by trimming limbs and bushes, clearing the roof and gutters of leaves and debris, and adding lattice or wire mesh beneath any decks to prevent the accumulation of debris.
Stack woodpiles at least 30-feet away from your home and maintain grass and weeds at a height no taller than 4 inches, even as far out as 100 feet from your home.
Roofing materials should be made of fire-resistive materials (Class C or better rating). If the full replacement cost of a roof is too prohibitive for your budget, you can start by replacing old shingles with the newer class of materials piece-by-piece.
Nothing is foolproof when a racing wildfire is on the warpath. But a few simple techniques could help keep it at bay long enough for firefighters to save your home.