As the temperatures warm and the snow melts, it becomes property clean-up season in the Methow. Now is a great time to plan and improve your wildland fire defensible space.
The 3-Zone concept of Defensible Space is widely published and practiced. The following distances are approximations and may need to be extended depending on topography and fuel load.
Zone 1: Extends 30ft out from the drip line of your structure(s). Most, if not all, of the easily ignitable material/debris and vegetation (fuel) is removed. This helps reduce the threat of direct flame contact with your home or other structures.
Zone 2: Continues from the border of Zone 1 out to approximately 100ft from the drip line. In this area, fuel is managed (treated) to limit fire intensity. Green spaces are maintained. Native grasses and weeds are allowed to grow to a height of 4-8 inches. Brush and trees are thinned leaving small pockets or islands of fuel with minimal organic matting (duff) underneath. Conifer trees are limbed up to a height of 10 feet (2/3rds their height if they are under 15 feet tall). Dead and diseased fuel is removed.
Zone 3: Covers the area between the edge of Zone 2 and the property line. This is the area of least intervention. You can leave several dead or “wildlife” trees per acre and grasses are allowed to grow. Trees should be limbed, as in Zone 2, and the ladder fuels (bush) should be cleared back to 12 feet from their outer drip line.
Often overlooked elements of defendable spaces include; keeping brush and grasses mowed low in a 30 foot radius around your propane tank, very large turn around and parking areas, and armor your structures against the ember shower. Ensuring that the exterior shell of all structures is in good repair and that all vents are screened will help prevent embers from finding an ignition point. The ember shower is what ignites most structures in a wildfire event.
It may seem like an overwhelming task if you try to accomplish everything at once. Start at the drip line of your home and work out. Accomplish what you can, when you can and over time your space can be defendable.
For a free assessment of your Fire District 6 protected property, contact Interim Chief Cody Acord at 997-2981.