Much of Colorado Springs and its surrounding area is located within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). This is why many of us choose to live in this area – we have all the perks of living in a city, but with easy access to forests, meadows, and close encounters with wildlife. Unfortunately, living here means we face the threat of wildfires every summer. None of us will ever forget the Waldo Canyon fire of 2012, or the Black Forest fire of 2013.
You can reduce the risk of losing your home to a wildfire by performing fire mitigation and creating a defensible space around the property. Fire mitigation simply means removing fuels (tall grass, low branches, etc.). Creating a defensible space helps prevent a fire from spreading from vegetation to your home, and gives firefighters room to maneuver.
The Colorado Springs Fire Department lists the following tips on their website:
- Create defensible space around your home. Colorado Springs Fire Department recommends thinning out 30 feet or to your property line, whichever comes first.
- Keep rain gutters clear of leaves and pine needles.
- Do not store combustibles on or under decks, including fire wood.
- Rake up pine needles and leaves within 30 feet of any structure.
- Select plant species with fire resistant characteristics.
- Keep grasses mowed to a maximum height of 4 inches.
- Incorporate landscape designs to break up fuel continuity (i.e. paths, rock walls, gravel mulch.)
- Keep address clearly marked and visible from both directions of traffic. (Fire fighters can’t help you if they can’t find you.)
- Prune lower branches. Removing ladder fuels will help keep the fire from getting into the crowns of trees. Remove dead or diseased trees and brush.
- When making home improvements or repairs, consider wildfire safety. Install Class-A roofing and fire resistant siding.
The Colorado Springs Fire Department also offers free disposal of branches through their Neighborhood Chipping Program:
Following these tips can help you keep your family and home safe this summer.