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Wildfire season approaching; defensible space key

By Kim Tobin
Published On: Apr 10 2013 08:58:10 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Kim Tobin spoke with fire experts about creating good defensible space around homes, preparing for the upcoming wildfire season

When a wildfire ignites, a home can catch fire in just seconds. On Wednesday, fire experts held a demonstration at Lane Knolls Estates in southeast Bend to show what good defensible space should look like around a home.

When flames start burning, fire crews say they've seen many homeowners have regrets about steps not taken.

"The fire ends up right next to the house, and you hear people say they should have done this, or should have done that," said Boone Zimmerlee of the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Homeowner association leaders learned how to assess properties and learn about the dangers surrounding many homes. Firefighters taught the crowd three key tips. The first is to start up high.

"Focus on the roof of your home, and then look around the house," said Bend Deputy Fire Marshal Susie Maniscalco. "The siding, the gutters, the extensions of the home the decks are important."

From there, people can move out to the land, where they can't clear everything, but underneath big trees is the most important. In case of a wildfire or other emergencies, a clear path and sign for a home can save lives.

"Making sure you have a clear address and accessible driveway, so in case of an emergency we can find you," Maniscalco said.

Officials say it's a community effort in which neighbors must work together.

"If one person has done the ignition zone around their home, and their neighbor has not, that just makes their house that much more receptive to burning," said Zimmerlee.

Crews hope homeowners start sooner rather than later, as wildfire season is on its way.

Now is the time to clean up your yards and create defensible spaces around homes and recycle that debris at FireFree collection sites FOR FREE in Deschutes and Jefferson counties. 

Friday, May 3 THROUGH May 11 at Knott Landfill in Bend (closed Sunday).

Fridays & Saturdays, May 3 & 4 and May 10 & 11 at the Westside Collection Site in Bend.

Friday & Saturday, May 17 & 18 at Deschutes County Transfer Sites:

Negus Transfer Station in Redmond

Northwest Transfer Station in Cloverdale

Southwest Transfer Station in La Pine

Friday & Saturday May 3 & 4 at the Sunriver Compost Site in Sunriver.

Saturday & Sunday May 4 & 5 and 11 & 12 at Box Canyon Transfer Site in Madras.

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