How to create a defensible space around your home to protect it from wildfires

This 2017 file photo shows a family cabin owned by the Kenneth Wade family located in Horse Valley that was destroyed by the Brian Head fire, June 22, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Kenneth Wade, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — With fires raging across the West, it’s important for Utah homeowners to be aware that defensible space is one of the most cost-effective ways to protect a house from wildfire. You can even do most of the work yourself.

A defensible space is an area around a home or other building in which plants, debris and other items that can easily catch fire have been treated, cleared or reduced to slow the spread of fire to and from a structure.

Information about local vegetation, weather and topography is used to determine the Fire Severity Zone of the area where you live. This information helps determine the most effective design to protect your space.

Wild grass, brush and timber can easily catch fire, burning with great intensity and producing embers that can become wind-driven hazards. Yard plants can catch fire just as easily. Maintaining defensible space requires routine maintenance of vegetation like pruning and removing dead branches and leaves.

Be sure to assess both the horizontal and vertical aspects of vegetation when designing the defensible space. Wildfires can move horizontally from shrub to shrub and tree to tree. They can also travel vertically from the ground up into the treetops, resulting in a catastrophic crown fire.

For more information on how to create a defensible space around your home, click here.

Contact a mitigation specialist for more information about making your home and family safer before, during and after a wildfire or other natural disaster at FEMA-r8-HMhelp@fema.dhs.gov. For more information about making your home and family safer before, during and after an earthquake, email bereadyutah@utah.gov .

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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