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Using the proper foliage, keeping up yard work can help prevent fires from damaging your home

FEMA ILLUSTRATION - This graphic illustrates tips to protect your home from wildfires and how to prepare an evacuation plan if you need to leave your home quickly.While cooler, wetter weather is on the radar in the Pacific Northwest this week, fire season is still in full swing.

Columbia River Fire and Rescue Division Chief Ian O'Connor said it is common for heat and dry conditions to hit the region in the early fall, and homeowners should still use precautions when it comes to preventing fire around your home.

So far this year, Columbia River Fire and Rescue has responded to 27 natural cover fires in Columbia County, some of which have covered several acres.

Preparing your home and maintaining your yard are key in preventing wildfires from damaging your property.

CRFR fire officials and the National Fire Protection Agency's Firewise program provided the following tips to keep your home safe:

? Clear out combustible material from your yard, roof and gutters. Regularly clear out leaves and dried needles from your rooftop, gutters, valleys and peaks on your property and trim back trees so the branches don't hang over your home.

? Don't underestimate the importance of yard maintenance. When homeowners properly maintain their land, it is easier for firefighters to defend those structures from the threat of a wildland fire.

? Select the right foliage. While no plants are fireproof, some are more fire resistant than others. Drought-resistant plants, plants that lie low to the ground and plants that have a higher water content are less susceptible to fire. Those include plants like sage, French lavender and ornamental strawberry. More tips can be found www.readyforwildfire.org/fire-safe-landscaping. Another helpful tip is to replace bark dust and wood chips in your

landscaping with lava rock or gravel.

? Keep a five-foot fire-free barrier around your home by planting fire-resistant shrubs and using heat-resistant landscaping. Monitor dead foliage in the 10-foot zone and create fire breaks in the 30-foot zone using gravel driveways, walkways or lawns.

? Store flammable materials away from the home. While storing firewood or hay near your home may be convenient, a single ember can quickly ignite a log pile. Closing vents to attics and crawlspaces will also prevent embers from entering the home.

? Invest in long-term replacements on your property. Replacing cedar shake roof tiles with asphalt shingles can be beneficial. Replacing siding on your home with fire resistant materials like concrete fiber cement is also beneficial.

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