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Make your house safe with Defensible Space

Trees may burn, but your house can survive.  Learn how.

Simple, crucial preparations in the "Home Ignition Zone" can protect your house from wildfire ignition.

MUST-SEE VIDEO: "Your Home Can Survive A Wildfire," explains Jack Cohen, U.S. Forest Service research fire scientist. 
MUST-SEE VIDEO:  U.S. Forest Service FIRE SCIENCES LAB researcher Jack Cohen dispels popular misconceptions about wildfire and house ignitions.

A fire science-proven way to protect your home from wildfire.


Common sense preparations to your house, that you can do yourself, have been shown by wildfire researchers to offer significant protection from wildfire.  Making your house "Ignition Resistant" in the area immediately around your house (and other structures on your property) in what one leading fire scientist calls, the "Home Ignition Zone," is one of the simplest, least costly, and most effective measures you can take to protect your home.


The maximum recommended distance from your house or structures for these treatments (clearing, sweeping, trimming, etc.) is only 100 feet.  Beyond 100 feet, treatments add little safety. (In fact, a neighbor's burning house is much more likely to ignite your house than a burning forest because its dried wood and other materials burn much hotter.) 


Most houses in a wildfire are ignited by firebrands (burning embers) from burning trees, shrubs, grasses, and other houses and structures.  If these firebrands have nothing to ignite close to your house — no dry leaves, brush, pine needles, firewood, etc. — your house won't ignite, and can survive even a nearby forest fire. (SEE PHOTO top, left.)

Put another way, if you keep your roof, gutters, and yard clear of fine, dry, combustible materials, and prevent firebrands from entering attic vents, a wildfire or even another house on fire just 100 feet away is unlikely to ignite your house.

Of course other factors play a role, including wind, topography, water, and your home's material construction — especially its roofing material where firebrands land.  Many of the houses that ignited in the 1991 Oakland Hills fire had combustible roofs that were littered with easily ignited debris.




Knowing the causes of wildland and WUI (Wildland-Urban Interface) fires is essential to taking effective preventive measure.  Conversely, taking actions that don't make your house ignition-resistant — like cutting down plants and trees beyond 100 feet from your house — do not offer additional wildfire protection.

In fact, cutting down trees and allowing brush and grasses to take their place, or re-planting a few small trees to "replace" forests can actually increase fire danger. READ WHY.

Once you've prepared your house and property with Defensible Space, there is an additional wildfire preparation we can make as a community: the Community Protection Zone...

READ: Protecting Our Communities

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