Consider fire safety when renovating this spring
Spring is the perfect time to start working on home renovations, tackle yardwork and generally spruce up your residence.
It's also the perfect time to prepare your home for fire season and take practical steps to make sure your living space is protected in the event of a wildfire.
May is recognized as wildfire awareness month and officials from Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal and Keep Oregon Green, in collaboration with Oregon Forest Protective Associations, the Office of Emergency Management and federal wildland agencies, are encouraging homeowners to develop a defensible space around homes before fire strikes this summer, a press release published earlier this month states.
Fire officials recommend removing dead vegetation with 30 feet around the home and other structures and maintaining a five-foot barrier closest to your house by using nonflammable landscaping. Trees should be pruned and grass should be cut short.
Jeff Pricher, the Columbia County fire marshal and a division chief with Scappoose Fire Department, said predictions by the National Interagency Fire Center Predictive Services indicate wildfire season will be active west of the Cascades, a change from years prior, and Columbia County is expected to experience above average potential for wildfires in May, June, July and August.
"Everything is really dry," Pricher said. "A lot of days this winter that were really cold there was not a lot of precipitation, which transpires to dry conditions."
With that in mind, Pricher said now is the best time for residents to prepare for the upcoming fire season by clearing off rooftops with valleys and gutters to get rid of pine needles, leaves and other debris.
"Rather than waiting until fall to clean them before the first rain, clean them at the beginning of summer," Pricher said. "Any leaves or pine needles in the valleys or gutters are ripe for fire."
Pricher also recommends replacing exterior home coverings made of vinyl or plywood with another material, like cement board, which can be picked up at a local hardware store.
"That's a real good investment in terms of fire safety for the home," Pricher said.
While preparing a home to be fire safe, Pricher also recommends residents be ready to evacuate in the event of a wildfire or other emergency. He suggested visiting the Columbia County Fire Marshal website, ccfiremarshal.com and ready.gov, for more information about fire safety and preparedness tips.
When burning recreationally or in the backyard, Pricher also recommends residents always check county burn lines and use extreme caution. When the weather is hotter than 85 degrees or windy, burning is not recommended.