Revisiting the home ignition zone: the extended 30-100 feet
When we talk about the Home Ignition Zone and actions for improving the chances of surviving a wildfire, we recommend starting at the home and working out from there. In previous blogs we've discussed the immediate (0-5 feet) and intermediate (5-30 feet) areas around the home, as wildfire risk reduction activities are completed in those areas, residents should start to focus on the extended zone, 30-100 feet from the base of the home.
This area allows for a little more flexibility when it comes to management as the goal isn't to eliminate fire, rather to interrupt fire's path and keep flames smaller and on the ground. Landscaping practices such as thinning and removing smaller trees and shrubs, breaking up continuous fuel and creating islands, and creating a more open, park-like setting can have a positive influence on fire behavior and how it spreads.
When looking at your home or a group of homes, here are some items to consider:
- Are there heavy accumulations of ground litter/debris?
- Is there dead plant and tree material that should be removed?
- Are storage sheds and/or other outbuildings in this zone clear of vegetation?
- Do mature trees have small conifers and brush growing between them or is the space maintained?
- Do trees 30–60 feet from the home have at least 12 feet between canopy tops? Is there at least 6
- feet between canopy tops of trees located 60–100 feet from the home?
If a home or community is on a hill, the extended zone may be drawn-out to 200 feet. This is because fire tends to burn faster uphill, pre-heating the vegetation above it. Creating a bigger buffer and managing vegetation on the downhill side of a home is critical.
As with the intermediate area, property lines in the extended zone may overlap. As you work on projects, consider reaching out to your neighbors to collaborate and leverage resources.
Remember, living in a wildfire prone area is a commitment, requiring work to be done throughout the year. When you look around your home, it might seem a bit overwhelming but rather than endeavoring to do it all at once, try breaking your home and yard in to projects, prioritize them based biggest threat or easiest win, and work on one at a time.
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