Is Your Home Protected From Wildfire Damage?

Nearly every state has been devastated by wildfires in the last century. More than 140,000 wildfires occur on average each year. Since 1990, more than 900 homes have been destroyed each year by wildfires. So, what can you do to protect yourself, your home and property from wildfires? This guide will help you understand why your home is at risk and how you can reduce the risk to your home and property.

The Wildland/Urban Interface Problem
Wildfires occur regularly. Whether started by humans or by lightning, they are part of a natural cycle that helps to maintain the health of our forests. Today, more than ever, people are moving into remote areas, with the desire to "get back to nature," without addressing the dangers that exist around them.
A tremendous wildfire danger exists where homes blend together with the wildland, creating the wildland/urban interface. The addition of homes there interrupts the natural cycle of wildfires. Ultimately, this contributes to a dangerous build-up of old vegetation, leading to an uncontrollable wildfire.

You and Your Local Fire Department
In a wildfire, your local fire department has two priorities – to remove you and your family from harm’s way and to stop the progression of the wildfire. If your home happens to be in the wildfire’s path, they may or may not be able to protect it – there are simply no guarantees. Consequently, you must take action before a fire starts.

Just the Right Conditions
Conditions must be just right for a wildfire to start and spread. Specifically, fuel, weather and topography work together to determine how quickly a wildfire travels and at what intensity.

Fuels: The two basic fuel types in the wildland/urban interface are vegetation and structures.

Vegetation: Fuel in its natural form consists of living and dead trees, bushes and grasses. Typically, grasses burn more quickly and with less intensity than trees. Any branches or shrubs between 18 inches and 6 feet are considered to be ladder fuels. Ladder fuels help convert a ground fire to a crown fire (tree tops) which moves much more quickly.

Structural Density: The closer the homes are together, the easier it is for the flames to spread from one structure to another.

Weather: High temperatures, low humidity, and swift winds increase the probability of ignitions and difficulty of control. Short and long-term drought further exacerbates the problem.

Slope: Slope is the upward or downward incline or slant of terrain. For example, a completely flat plain represents a 0% slope and a hillside that rises 30 feet for every 100 feet horizontal distance represents a 30% slope. Hot gases rise in front of the fire along the slope face, pre-heating the up-slope vegetation, moving a grass fire up to four times faster with flames twice as long as a fire on level ground.

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