Wildfire Safety

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Living on the high desert has many benefits; but a risk to living in this beautiful area is the threat of wildfire, please use this section to find information on how you can reduce your risk of having a fire spread to your home. Bend Fire Department offers free consults for home owners to review their home and look at ways of improving the property to help prevent the spread of wildfires. Call 541-322-6309 to schedule your visit. The links below provide valuable information on what you can do around your home and neighborhood to help reduce the risk of wildfire spreading to your home.

Deschutes County Sheriffs Office is the agency that is in charge of evacuations and preparedness in the Bend area. For information on evacuations and evacuation preparedness visit their website for that information.

New website will provide a one-stop shop for Central Oregon residents on wildfire, public health, smoke, and prescribed fire information!

CENTRAOREGONFIRE.ORG

Many of the resources available on the site were previously available however, this is the first time these resources and information have been consolidated into one place.

The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Forestry, Deschutes County, Public Health representatives, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Project Wildfire, and The Nature Conservancy collaborated on the site to provide the public a more comprehensive website to answer key questions related to fire, smoke, and health.

Keeping Safe from Wildfire

  • Wildfire is a regular and natural occurrence in Central Oregon (just like the winter snow) so we must prepare our homes and lives.
  • Have a “Go Kit” (for when evacuation is necessary) and sign up with reverse 911 with Deschutes County 911 for emergency notifications.
  • Prepare your home and property to survive a wildfire.
  • Below is a guide for assessing your home ignition zone and how to help limit the spread of wildfire around your home. 

Immediate zone (zone 1)

  • The home and the area 0-5’ from the furthest attached exterior point of the home; defined as a non-combustible area.  Science tells us this is the most important zone to take immediate action on as it is the most vulnerable to embers. START WITH THE HOUSE ITSELF then move into the landscaping section of the Immediate Zone.
  • Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris and pine needles that could catch embers.
  • Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration.
  • Reduce embers that could pass through vents in the eaves by installing 1/8 inch metal mesh screening.
  • Clean debris from exterior attic vents and install 1/8 inch metal mesh screening to reduce embers.
  • Keep under decks and eves clear or screened to prevent entry of fire embers.
  • Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
  • Limit number of trees directly in contact with the home. Limb branches up above the eave line of the home, especially for evergreen trees. Deciduous trees don’t pose as great of a threat evergreens, especially when well maintained.
  • Move any flammable material away from wall exteriors – mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles – anything that can burn. Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches. National standard now is to keep mulch at least 5 feet from combustible construction (decks, siding, etc) At a minimum ensure mulch and bark does not come in direct contact with combustible construction.

Intermediate zone (zone 2)

  • 5-30’ from the furthest exterior point of the home. Landscaping/hardscaping- employing careful landscaping or creating breaks that can help influence and decrease fire behavior
  • Clear vegetation from under large stationary propane tanks.
  • Keep wood piles at least 20 feet from structures.
  • Create fuel breaks with driveways, walkways/paths, patios, and decks.
  • Keep lawns and native grasses mowed to a height of four inches.
  • Remove ladder fuels (vegetation under trees and branches) so a surface fire cannot reach the crowns.  Prune trees up to six to ten feet from the ground; for shorter trees do not exceed 1/3 of the overall tree height.
  • Tree placement should be planned to ensure the mature canopy is no closer than ten feet to the edge of the structure.
  • Tree and shrubs in this zone should be limited to small clusters of a few each to break up the continuity of the vegetation across the landscape.

Extended zone (zone 3)

  • 30-100 feet, out to 200 feet. Landscaping – the goal here is not to eliminate fire but to interrupt fire’s path and keep flames smaller and on the ground.
  • Dispose of heavy accumulations of ground litter/debris.
  • Remove dead plant and tree material.
  • Remove small trees growing between mature trees.
  • Remove vegetation adjacent to storage sheds or other outbuildings within this area.

Considerations

  • The greater the slope of the property, the greater the distances of the zones. If your property is very steep, you may look to increase zone 1 to 10 feet, zone 2 to 60 feet and zone 3 to 200 feet.
  • With greater slope, the zones may not be equal on all sides of your home. Uphill sides of the home may be able to be less than the downhill sides due to speed at which fire spreads uphill versus downhill.
  • So much of this is a case by case scenario for what is best for each home. Contact your local fire department for an onsite visit and consultation.

Schedule a FREE home safety consultation today! Call our office at 541-322-6300 to schedule your FREE visit! 

Below are brochures and handouts that you can use as guides to improving the wildfire safety of your home:

Information pertaining to evacuations and preparedness:

Current Fire Information for Central Oregon:

Chipping Up Vegetation 
Home owners limed up trees and thinned brush in this neighborhood
and then hired a company to come and chip up the debris.
By reducing the fuel load in the neighborhood, they lessened the
chance of a wildfire spreading through the open areas.