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Creating Defensible Spaces Can Help Protect Against Wildfires


July 3, 2012 — Homeowners can take action to help secure properties against potential wildfires, according to University of Wyoming Extension information.

“With the critically dry and hot conditions this year, it is extremely wise to make sure you create a defensible space around the entire perimeter of your home and all outbuildings,” says Ron Cunningham, a UW Extension educator based in Fremont County. “This is the one thing you can do to help prevent catastrophic losses from wildfires.”

Cunningham advises homeowners to:

  • Trim or mow grassy areas around all buildings to a distance of at least 30 feet; 100 feet is preferable.
  • Move all firewood stacked against or near any building at least 30 feet away until winter.
  • Remove dead tree branches and shrubs full of dead branches that are near any building. Cut down all trees and shrubs to a distance of up to 30 feet from any building, if possible.
  • Water grassy areas near buildings more frequently.
  • Move all hay and straw 50-100 feet away from sheds, garages and barns.

“One of the hardest fires to put out is a hay or straw fire as they have so much fuel packed tightly into the bales,” Cunningham says.

Protecting a house from wildfire is detailed, along with other fire-wise suggestions at the UW Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) website managed by land-grant universities -- including UW -- and federal agencies.

To access information, go to www.uwyo.edu/ces and click on “Extension Educational Program Areas” on the left-hand side, then “Ag and Natural Resources,” follow the link under “Disasters,” and click on “Wildfires under Natural Disasters.”

Fire-wise information also is available at barnyardsandbackyards.com by UW Extension. Go to www.uwyo.edu/barnbackyard/resources and click on Wildfire.

“Enjoy the summer, but do not have any open fires and do not shoot off fireworks if fire or fireworks bans are in place,” Cunningham adds.

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