Happy July 4th everyone. The recent wildfires in Colorado, New Mexico, and closer to home in nearby Crown King are a sobering reminder of the ongoing threat we face here in the southwest from this life and property destroying natural occurrence. With the mid-summer celebration on hand, monsoon thunder and lightning in the forecast, and the worst of the summer heat still yet to come, it's a good time to take another look at our properties, and assess them for wildfire risk.
Outlying subdivisions around Prescott are inherently at higher risk for wildfire because of the city's close interface with the surrounding national forest lands. A quick drive around the south and west sections of town illustrates just how protracted this risk remains. So many of our homes here are built on sloped lots, with dense stands of trees and thick underbrush in between.
While many of our subdivisions and surrounding forests are in better shape than they were 10 years ago when the Indian Fire erupted south of town, residents need to remain vigilant.
Here's how to help protect your property from this very real seasonal danger:
A Lean, Clean & Green Yard: A well-maintained lot is essential to reducing the risk of losing your home in a wildfire. Flammable items such as wood scraps, fuel canisters or gunpowder should never be left unprotected on the property. Tree, shrub, and lawn trimmings should always be removed as quickly as possible. Areas underneath porches and decks should be kept clear and covered with rock, gravel or other non-combustible materials.
Defensible Space: Defensible space around your home should include; a 30-foot zone immediately surrounding your structure, well irrigated if possible, with carefully spaced fire-resistant plants and shrubs; a well-kept yard, free of firewood piles or other inherently flammable objects and cleared of "ladder fuels"- vegetation that can transmit fire from the ground plane to the tree tops or your roof, such as weeds or dead and dying underbrush; healthy, fire-resistant trees, trimmed to at least 6 feet to 10 feet from the ground. Mature trees should be routinely pruned and preferably kept 10 feet to 12 feet from the eaves of your home. Check with local garden centers or Prescott National Forest Service staff for a list of fire-resistant groundcover, shrubs and trees.
Fire-Resistant Attachments: All yard structures attached to your home such as decks, porches, fences and sheds should also be reviewed for their potential to act as a fire bridge. Non-flammable materials such as metal or masonry are recommended where possible. Existing wood fences or trellis elements can be separated from the main structure with masonry or metal barriers.
Regarding the use of fireworks in town: "We remind everybody that igniting consumer grade fireworks is prohibited in the City of Prescott," says city spokesman Kim Kapin. "Under normal conditions, use of novelty items such as sparklers and poppers is permissible. However, with Stage II Fire Restrictions currently in effect- any item a user would put a flame to, is prohibited. Training Chief Don Devendorf captured the essence of the restrictions saying, 'If you light it, we'll cite it."
So let's keep our lots prepared, and play it safe this Fourth of July!