PORTLAND -- As wildfires led to more than 125,000 evacuations in southern California, fire officials said drought conditions could lead to an early and extensive wildfire season in Oregon.
With more and more housing developments in forested areas, the potential for disaster grows each year. But officials said about 80 percent of all wildfires are caused by humans, and a little bit of prevention goes a long way.
Interactive: 2014 wildfire season
Homeowners are urged to help stop the spread of wildfires by creating defensible spaces around their homes.
“It’s really important that they have a green buffer around their house or at least they remove the vegetation so you don’t want limbs hanging over rooftops. You don’t want dry brush or briers or brambles right up to your house,” Said Cassandra Ulven of Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue.
TVF & R will come to your home to access defensible space for you if you live in their service area.
Here are a few tips to protect the zone around your home:
- Plants should be carefully spaced, low-growing and free of resins, oils and waxes that burn easily
- Mow the lawn regularly
- Prune trees up six to ten feet from the ground
- Space conifer trees 30 feet between crowns
- Trim back trees that overhang the house
- Create a ‘fire-free’ area within five feet of the home, using non-flammable landscaping materials and/or high-moisture-content annuals and perennials
- Remove dead vegetation from under the deck and within 10 feet of house
- Consider fire-resistant material for patio furniture, swing sets, etc.
- Remove firewood stacks and propane tanks; they should not be located in this zone
- Water plants, trees and mulch regularly
Warm winds, coupled with a three-year drought in California have ignited the nine wildfires burning in San Diego County, where Gov. Jerry Brown has declared an emergency.
Similar conditions in Oregon last year led to the worst wildfire season in 60 years. Three firefighters died and battling the blazes cost about $122 million.
Above-normal fire potential in Oregon is now forecast before the end of June, just a bit earlier than normal.