Your Home’s Wildfire Risk

Firewise Note 1

Understanding how wildfires spread improves our ability to protect our homes. Key factors that affect the spread of wildfire are the amount of available fuel, dry, windy weather and hilly terrain. 

We are surrounded by the Balcones Canyonland Preserve, no doubt one of the reasons we chose to live here. The Preserve represents a tremendous source of fuel for any approaching wildfire. Our hot, dry summers then provide perfect seasoning for that fuel, intensifying the risk of ignition. Our hilly terrain can make wildfires less predictable, spreading uphill faster during the day, faster downhill at night. High winds cause flying embers that may lead directly to your home. 

This is why Westminster Glen Estates needs to become a “Firewise Community”.

Managing our risk of wildfires has become critical especially as it appears we are moving into a period of La Nina, which typically brings dryer conditions to our area.

According to Firewise, we are a high hazard area. This is defined as: 

* Vegetation: Dense vegetation surrounding the community; high-flammability vegetation and tree canopies; medium to tall ever- green broadleaf and coniferous shrubs. 

* Weather: Multiple occurrences of dry, windy conditions throughout the year. Area in a prolonged drought, or dry climate with a dry season that lasts more than three months. 

Here are some recommendations from FIrewise regarding Hazard Assessment: 

ZONE 1: 30 feet adjacent to the home (All Hazard Areas) 

* Carefully spaced plantings that are low-growing and free of resins, oils, and waxes that burn easily 

* Mow the lawn regularly. Prune all trees so the lowest limbs are at least six to 10 feet from the ground. 

* Space flammable conifer trees 30 feet between crowns to reduce the risk of crown fire. 

* Within five feet of the home, use nonflammable landscaping materials remove dead vegetation, such as leaves and pine needles from gutters, under your deck, and within 10 feet of your home. 

ZONE 2: 30 to 100 feet from the home (Moderate and High Hazard Areas) 

* Give yourself added protection with “fuel breaks,” such as driveways, gravel walkways, and lawns. 

* Prune trees so branches and leaves are at least 6 to 10 feet above the ground. Remove heavy accumulations of woody debris. 

ZONE 3: 100 to 200 feet from the home (High Hazard Areas) 

* In high hazard conditions, this area should be thinned out as well, though less space is required than in Zone 2. Remove heavy accumulation of woody debris, such as piles of stem wood or branches. Thin trees to remove smaller conifers that are growing between taller trees. Reduce the density of tall trees so canopies are not touching.

Reproduced from NFPA’s website, www.nfpa.org/publiceducation. © NFPA.