Catron Courier - - Opinions & Editorials - By Sher Brown

Be­cause it’s wild­fire sea­son, I re­cently spent some time driv­ing around my neigh­bor­hood and one of the neigh­bor­hoods for which my depart­ment pro­vides mu­tual aid. I was pre­view­ing homes to see which homes could stand alone in a wild­fire; which would need some mit­i­ga­tion, but could be de­fended if need be; and which ones just couldn’t be de­fended. I’m happy to say that most of the homes fell into the first two cat­e­gories. Un­for­tu­nately, there were too many homes that prob­a­bly won’t sur­vive if a wild­fire blows through the sub­di­vi­sion.

De­spite our at­tempts to ed­u­cate home­own­ers, some peo­ple just refuse to thin the trees and clean up the un­der­growth around their homes. I just don’t un­der­stand that at­ti­tude. I love trees as much as the next guy, but even ig­nor­ing the fire as­pect, thin­ning your trees im­proves the health of the re­main­ing trees, in­creases wild life view­ing, and ar­guably adds curb ap­peal to your home. Then there’s the wa­ter is­sue. I’ve heard sto­ries of folks who have re­duced the num­ber of ju­nipers on their prop­erty and they were re­warded with the re­vival of long-dry creeks. True or not, we do know that a sin­gle ju­niper sucks up more than its fair share of wa­ter.

I’ve heard lots of dif­fer­ent ex­cuses from home­own­ers who don’t want to limb up and thin their trees. But con­sider this: in a wild­fire, your home stops be­ing a home and be­comes noth­ing more than fuel. A fire that might run through as a grass fire now finds low limbs and climbs into the crowns of a thick stand of trees, chang­ing fire be­hav­ior sig­nif­i­cantly. Now the fire is throw­ing em­bers that can eas­ily catch the nearby home on fire. With this new, huge source of fuel, the fire grows even more, en­dan­ger­ing other homes nearby.

Clear­ing veg­e­ta­tion around your home is crit­i­cal, but there are even more things to con­sider when try­ing to en­sure your home is wild­fire ready.

When fire fighters as­sess a home, we also look at ac­cess. Can we get our big red truck in and, more im­por­tantly, out of your prop­erty with­out dif­fi­culty? If we come on your prop­erty, how quickly can we get out if things sud­denly go wrong? Is there a nearby safe place for us to go if we’re run­ning for our lives? If your home is de­fend­able, but needs mit­i­ga­tion, how much work do we have to do to make your home safe? Will the mit­i­ga­tion take hours or min­utes?

Your best bet is to make sure your home can stand alone dur­ing a wild­fire. Even if the gov­ern­ment agen­cies send help, there just aren’t enough trucks, fire fighters, or wa­ter to de­fend ev­ery home in a threat­ened sub­di­vi­sion.

On be­half of all the fire fighters that will be work­ing on that in­evitable fire, we ask that you do your part to keep your home, your fam­ily, and us safe.

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