IDAHO — Over the last 10 years, about 700 homes and other structures have been lost to wildfires in Idaho, according to the Bureau of Land Management.
With dry and hot conditions forecasted for Idaho, and a significant fire potential outlook for the next three months it's important to do everything you can to protect from a wildfire.
“Some steps that property owners can take to reduce the risk of wildfire to their homes and land we would call creating some defensible space,” Brett Van Paepegham, Project Manager, Idaho Firewise said.
Most homeowners are not sufficiently informed or ready to take necessary action to stay safe from #wildfire. Learn how community engagement & education on the #HomeIgnitionZone can help us #OutthinkWildfire https://t.co/Pr7mK1B8ov #Fireadapted #Firewise #defensiblespace pic.twitter.com/xTRXvMhDW3— NFPA Firewise USA® (@Firewise) July 1, 2021
Firewise recommends starting with the home itself, what they call Zone 1.
“Remove debris from gutters, leaves, and around the foundation and immediately around the home," Paepegham said. "Here we want to use gravel surrounding your home out to five feet.”
In Zone 2, five to 30 feet from the home you want to keep all plants maintained, clean, green, and cut back. It's important you choose less flammable plants.
“Remove highly flammable plants such as conifers, shrubs, and trees, like junipers, spruce, and arborvitae," Paepegham said. "Here we suggest using low growing ground covers, and plants with high moisture content and ones low on oils and resins that cause plants to burn so readily and hot.”
Know your #HomeIgnitionZone: In the Immediate Zone (the home & 0-5ft around it), trim branches that overhang the home, porch, & deck to keep #wildfire away from the structure. Learn more: https://t.co/WM695Vky7I #fireadapted #firewise #defensiblespace #insurance #wisdomwednesday pic.twitter.com/e7DokHydyV— NFPA Firewise USA® (@Firewise) June 30, 2021
Store firewood and other flammable items at least 30 feet from the buildings or what would be considered Zone 3.
“We want to move any dead or dying plant materials and ladder fuels that are like tall grasses or shrubs from below tree canopies," Paepegham said. "Keep tree canopies pruned up six to 10 feet from the ground.”
As you get further from the house make sure you get rid of any invasive plants and grass.
“If you run into invasive grasses like cheatgrass or medusahead, which are so common in our area this is a good time to make sure those are lined trim down and rake up and remove all the material and dispose of it," Paepegham
Know your #HomeIgnitionZone: In the Intermediate Zone (5-30ft from the home), trees & shrubs should be in small clusters of a few each to break up continuity across the landscape. Learn more: https://t.co/u9cBtupajE #fireadapted #firewise #insurance #wisdomwednesday pic.twitter.com/5ExB4dJpgd— NFPA Firewise USA® (@Firewise) June 16, 2021
Other important things include having a to-go bag ready, an evacuation plan in place, and be ready to evacuate if a fire gets too close.
You can also head to the Idaho Botanical Garden, and tour Idaho Firewise's demonstration of hundreds of plant species that they have been testing for years for flammability.
They show you plants, trees, and shrubs that are great for creating a defensible space around the home.
For more information, head to idahofirewise.org.