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Firefighters: Remove trees to protect home from wildfires

Wildfire season is fast approaching and local firefighters say the vast majority of homes in eastern Idaho are at extra risk because of one thing you may not have considered: trees and other plant life.

Firefighters with the Pocatello Fire Department are recommending homeowners build a 30-foot defense zone around their homes in which they remove all flammable materials.

“You have to think of, ‘What do I have around my house that might help the fire spread?'” said Tom Sanford, assistant chief of public safety at the Pocatello Fire Department.

Dead leaves, pine needles, twigs and wood stacks are prime kindling, Sanford said. He said trees are another threat most people don’t think about.

“If you have trees near your house, the trees will catch fire and they produce a lot of BTU – heat output – and they’ll start your house on fire,” said Sanford.

Sanford said when building a defense zone, it’s important to make sure it runs full-circle around your home.

“During the Charlotte Fire we saw people who had landscapes set up perfectly for a fire to travel right up to their house,” said Sanford.

While fire can strike anytime and anywhere, Sanford said homes on hills are particularly susceptible.

“Heat likes to travel upwards, so if you live at the top of a slope, the fire will travel up that slope towards your house,” said Sanford.

Firefighters say you should also remove all debris from storm gutters and roofs.

He said to keep propane tanks away from homes and also recommended creating a 30-foot zone around your propane tank.

Below is a full list of tips from the Pocatello Fire Department:

Rake dead leaves, sticks and pine needles off your lawn.
Clear leaves and other debris from gutters and eaves. This prevents embers from igniting your home. Make mulch piles to protect your garden and prevent weeds. Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane tanks) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuilding, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck, or porch. Remove leaves and twigs from under the deck. Sweep the deck or porch to get rid of pine needles and leaves. Make sure to give plants and shrubs plenty of water. Dispose of your garbage appropriately.

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