Colo. Homeowners Cautioned on Tinderbox Conditions

April 2, 2004

The dry, warm weather in March, what should have been Colorado’s wettest month, is giving homeowners an early wakeup call to the start of fire season. But residents can reportedly help boost their homes’ fire defense with some simple changes in their yard.

The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) said the key is removing everything flames would view as a fuel source. This will help create survivable space: a zone around the home that will help slow a fire, should one start, and potentially direct it elsewhere.

“You do not want to wait until you’re loading up the car on an evacuation order to think about whether your home stands a chance of surviving a wildfire,” said Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, an IBHS partner.

Fire will burn only if flammable things like dry landscaping, woodpiles and decks are present. To create a survivable space, IBHS said residents should take the following steps within at least 30 feet of their home, 50-100 feet if they live in a heavily wooded area:

— Prune trees and shrubs.
— Branches on taller trees should be a minimum of 6 feet from the ground.
— Remove dead leaves and branches, especially around the roof and chimney.
— Mow the lawn regularly and dispose promptly of cuttings and debris.
— Clear the roof, gutters and eaves of debris.
— Maintain the irrigation system.
— Move firewood and storage tanks 50 feet away from the home.
— Store flammable liquids properly.

If residents are about to begin a landscaping project, they can increase their home and yard’s protection by introducing more native vegetation, and spacing trees at least 10 feet apart.

And if a facelift is being planned for one’s home’s exterior, use only non- combustible materials on the roof, walls, eaves, soffits and fascia.

The pamphlet Protect Your Home Against Wildfire Damage and other natural disaster safety information can be found on the IBHS Web site,, or by calling toll free 1- (866) 657-IBHS (4247). For insurance and safety information also log on to

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