Editorial: What is my role in wildfire season?

Are you prepared in case of wildfire? Is your home protected? Do you know what to take in case you must evacuate?

These are all questions we should be asking ourselves as another year of extreme wildfire behavior prepares to kick off.

Right now, agencies across the state are mobilizing. They’re hiring and training wildland fire crews to mitigate and manage anticipated wildfires. Agencies prepare for wildfire season by putting crews through intense training regimes and ensuring equipment and apparatus are in working order. But they still need your help.

What can I do to help?

Residents can help protect their homes through home and yard upkeep and by creating defensible space.

Additionally, fire managers said homeowners can create defensible space in three zones.

Zone 1 extends about 30 feet from buildings, structures or decks. This includes removing all dead plants, grass and weeds in that area, and removing dead leaves and pine needles from the yard, roof and rain gutters. Wood piles should be moved 100 feet from the home and vegetation should be moved from around and under decks.

Zone 2 extends 100 feet out from buildings, structures or decks. Grass should be mowed to a maximum height of 4 inches and there should be 10 feet of horizontal space between shrubs and trees. There should also be vertical space between grass, shrubs and trees to avoid ladder fueling. If possible, remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and other small branches to a depth of no more than 3 inches.

Zone 3 is the area beyond the home into the surrounding neighborhood. Neighborhoods should consider working with land managers to clear dense vegetation and thin trees. Ladder fuel removal should be considered. The goals of this zone are to improve the health of the wildlands and help slow an approaching wildfire. It also is an aesthetic transition between the more heavily modified Zone 2 and the unmodified surroundings. Residents can also help protect their homes by removing excess toys, patio furniture and other materials from around the home.

If you have questions don’t hesitate to ask. More information is available by contacting your local fire department or following the BIA Wildland Fire Management - Navajo Region on Facebook.

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