With high temperatures, high winds, and the ongoing drought across Marin, Sonoma, and Napa counties, weather officials in the area have issued a “red flag” warning for fire risk. Residents in this area are all too familiar with wildfires like the Glass Fire of 2020 in Napa the Tubbs Fire of 2017 in Sonoma, or just last week, the Lassen Fire in Lucas Valley, Marin County. Incidentally, our office in San Rafael was under a mandatory evacuation order last week.
Thus far in California, the 2021 fire season has burned nearly 2 million acres of land and almost 3000 structures have been damaged or destroyed.
Is your home protected from fire?
One of the most effective ways of protecting your home from wildfires is by creating a defensible space around your home. A recent inspection by the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority reported only 30% to 50% of the 25,00 homes they inspected had a defensible space.
What is a defensible space?
Given the amount of homes that failed inspection, you are not alone. A defensible space is an area around your home that is prepared to prevent the fire from ever reaching your home. This area spans about a 100 foot radius surrounding your home and there is plenty you can do to prepare.
The first step of creating a defensible space is protecting the exterior of your home. You should keep your roof, gutters, decks, and patios clear of leaves and needles. This material is considered highly flammable “fuel” that you don’t want anywhere near your home. Chimney and stovepipe openings should be covered with metal screening to prevent embers from entering. These are all items covered during the Home Stewardship quarterly maintenance service, but many homeowners fall behind.
In the immediate area outside your home, you’ll want to remove anything combustible such as firewood or any type of vegetation that is prone to fire. If you have trees, make sure trim any tree branches that hang over the roof of your home. If you have grass, you should make sure to keep it trimmed and never let it exceed 4 inches in length. If you have patio furniture, it should be further than 30 feet away from your home, or made out of a fire-proof material like metal.
In the areas 30 feet and beyond your home, it’s important to maintain your vegetation and remove any dead or dying branches that could be especially dry and fire-prone. In some areas like Marin and Napa, it’s actually illegal to plant certain plants within 100 feet of your home due to their risk in a fire. Thankfully, there is no shortage of fire resistant landscaping choices if you’re looking to replace any high-risk plants you may have. Beyond your vegetation, another great way to build a fireline into your yard is to create concrete or gravel walkways.
While you can never truly ensure your home’s safety in a wildfire, there is plenty residents in the North Bay Area can do to their home and property to take precautions. If you’re not sure if your home is fire ready or if you have a defensible space, us at Home Stewards can help! Contact Us and we can evaluate your home and come up with a plan especially tailored to your home and property.