Plant selection can reduce fire danger

Wildfires in Northern and Southern California have threatened hundreds of homes recently, sending an early alert to all homeowners in brushfire-prone areas that it is never too early to protect their property from fire exposure.

 

While clearing a defensible space around the home is critical for brush fire survival, homeowners can create a second layer of protection by planting a fire-safe landscape.

 

"As victims of the Laguna and Harmony Grove fires discovered, landscaping can make or break a home's ability to withstand a brush fire," said Candysse Miller, executive director of the Insurance Information Network of California.

 

In both of those fires, homeowners who combined defensible space with fire-resistant landscaping saw their homes survive, while neighbors' homes burned.

 

In addition to maintaining a 30-foot brush fire safe zone around the home, homeowners should look at the plants and trees used in their gardens. Junipers and Eucalyptus, popular landscape trees, are extremely flammable. However jade plants, rose geraniums, ice plants and white rockrose can withstand high temperatures for prolonged periods without igniting.

 

"Landscaping can make or break a home's chances of surviving a brush fire," Miller said.

 

IINC also recommends the following tips to prepare for a perilous fire season:

 

- Space trees and shrubs at least 10 feet apart.

- Remove branches from within 10 feet of chimneys and several feet from roofs. Cover chimney with non-flammable screen of 1/2-inch or smaller mesh.

- Remove dead vegetation, leaves and other debris from roofs and gutters.

- Do not stack wood or papers around the house.

- If you have a swimming pool, be prepared to use it as a fire-fighting tool by purchasing a pool pump.

Consumers can obtain fire preparedness tips by logging on to www.iinc.org.

 

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