Fire season has hit the West early and with a vengeance, threatening homes and lives. It is estimated that well over a 100 houses burned in Northern Colorado's High Park Fire in just two days (with yours truly evacuated from my mountain escape), and another wildfire is currently threatening Ruidoso, New Mexico. Proper preparation can really make the difference between a saved home or a pile of embers and broken hearts during a wildfire - read on for six important steps to protect your castle if a fire comes licking at the doorstep.
1. Clear combustible debris from around your home
The first step is often the most effective, and it’s a doable project for a homeowner: clear combustible debris from around the house. This includes obvious things like dry grass, brush, stacks of firewood and debris – and some not so obvious things like a wood fence and even a wooden deck. Defensible spaces should stretch out at least 30 feet from a house, and large concentric rings of fuel reduction set further out improve the odds. The clearer the area, the better the chance a fire crew will stay to protect your property.
Photo Denver CBS4
2. Secure your home’s eaves and vent openings
Eaves and vent openings are a perfect place for embers to fly into and start a home ablaze from the interior. Making sure they are properly screened and maintained may seem like a little detail, but it is often the first place embers can enter a house in a wildfire. Even keeping gutters clean can help protect your home’s vulnerable eaves.
Photo Andrew Michler
3. Protect your home’s roof
Roofs are often the most vulnerable part of a house in a fire, so it goes without saying that cedar shakes are out of the question – even in urban areas. Class A rated roofs are the norm, including many asphalt shingle types, but tile and steel are preferred options. Same goes for siding—a shingle or wood wall offers very poor fire resistance while fiber cement or stucco stands up well. A low or non-flammable underlayment dramatically improves the fire resistance.