Safe & Secure: Examples of how defensible space saves homes in w - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Safe & Secure: Examples of how defensible space saves homes in wildfires

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During this fire season, sadly we've seen a lot of homes go in flames, but firefighters have also saved a lot of homes in large part because the homeowners gave their property a fighting chance, or what fire crews call defensible space.

"Fire went through fast and hot and it didn't touch the house. I mean it just went around it," Lori Scobie-Silveira told us of the home on Scott Raven Ranch, of which hundreds of acres burned in the Parkfield Fire near San Miguel.

The flames getting dangerously close to the home, but never touching it. Firefighters say the property is a text book example of defensible space and the reason the home is still standing today.

"This entire hill burned within five minutes," same goes for the Grist family home, east of Santa Margarita. Not only had they done clearance, but Cal Fire crews were also out there a few months prior doing a major brush clearance project, saving it from certain destruction of the Hill Fire.

Cal Fire recommends a 100-foot clearance around homes in outlying areas of the county. The first 30-feet should be cleared down to dirt and replaced with fire resistant vegetation such as cactus, ice plant and other succulents.

Beyond the 30-foot clearance:
     -grass should be mowed down to four inches
     -tree limbs lifted off the ground
     -and vegetation planted sparsely throughout the grounds.

"Where you're breaking up the continuity of the vegetation to not give the fire a chance to spread through there as rapidly," Cal Fire Public Information Officer Chris Elms said.

And there are other ways to make your home defendable against wildfires.
"Things like keeping your gutters clean, putting screens over vents on your home, making sure your roof is built with composite materials and not wood shingles," Elms said, adding that for homeowners doing their due diligence, "those structures are fairing very well in these fires."

Cal Fire and local fire stations have programs to help you come up with a plan to create defensible space. There are also tips at the "readysetgo" app and at readyforwildfire.org.

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