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Saving One Home at a Time: Defensible Space

24 Jun 2021, 5:30 pm


Whether it’s a fast-moving wildfire pushing into your neighborhood or tiny embers from a fire miles away, you might only have minutes or even seconds to evacuate your home.

That is why it is so important ahead of time, not during an active wildfire, you need to make sure your home has the best chance of survival.

“Fires being pushed by a really strong wind, you can have an army of firefighters and aircraft there and you’re not going to stop that fire,” said Mike Eliason, Public Information Officer with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.  “But, in certain situations houses have caught fire that shouldn’t have just because they didn’t have that defensible space.”

READ: Homeowners Checklist to Make Your Home Fire Safe

It starts with following simple guidelines:  within five feet of your home, keep this area ember resistant.  That includes removing anything that could quickly ignite like mulch, dying weeds and vegetation.

“Clear those gutters from debris that collects in there because those embers can fall into those gutters and start a fire and also get into the vent systems inside the house and start a fire in the attic,”  Eliason said.

Within 30 feet, make sure it stays lean, clean and green.  When you get to between 30 to 100 feet away, make sure grass is mowed to a maximum height of four inches, and anything that falls from your trees piles up no higher than three inches.  Also, another thing to remember is to ensure there is enough horizontal and vertical space between shrubs and trees.

READ: Defensible Space — The Difference Zones and What You Need to Know

Courtesy: Cal Fire

“Communities have survived because they were fire-wise communities and it really takes people working together within the community to make everyone’s space more survivable,” said Carrie Bilbao, Public Affairs Specialist with the National Interagency Fire Center.


About the author
Kara has always been passionate about weather and knew from an early age that she wanted to become a meteorologist. Living in different regions of the country and experiencing weather events ranging from ice storms to tornadoes drove her to pursue a bachelor's degree in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma. Throughout college, storm chasing became a regular event for Kara, where she saw fir... Load Morest-hand the power of the atmosphere. Kara graduated cum laude from OU and decided to further her meteorology education with a Master's degree from Mississippi State University. The deadly April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak struck while Kara was studying at MSU; her first “Dixie Alley” tornado event and an up close glimpse into the destruction of the storms she so closely studied. Her broadcast career began in Elvis’ birthplace, Tupelo, Mississippi, where she earned her Certified Broadcast Meteorologist seal from the American Meteorological Society. Kara's career has included coverage of all types of severe weather including tornado events, flooding and tropical systems across multiple southern states. Recently she helped cover the 2020 Easter Sunday deadly tornado outbreak in southeast Mississippi. In her free time, you can find Kara outdoors exploring new areas with her mini poodle,Truffles. Kara is also an avid runner and frequently races in 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons. Say hi to Kara on Twitter and Facebook!