Oracle Firewise: It’s the Ember Storms That Get You

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Once ignited by embers, little brushy pockets like this can lead to a greater home fire.

  It was a great monsoon season, but the rains brought with them a ticking time bomb—an unusually large crop of high grasses and brush.  At Firewise, we recommend clearing brush, grass and other flammable material from around your home for a distance of at least 30 feet. That threat is fairly obvious.

  What’s not so obvious and can prove an even greater threat to your property are wind-driven leaves, dead grass and other plant material that are swept up into and accumulate in the little nooks and crannies around your foundation and particularly under porches.

  One of the deadliest by-products of a wild fire are the raging, burning ember storms produced. Masses of live embers are kicked up into the air by the fire and can be quickly transported for miles by prevailing winds. Landing on your home, those burning embers will often ignite any combustible material they touch. The ember storms land on roofs, sweep into attic vents, open windows, under porches, envelop outside furniture and readily find those highly combustible pockets of plant material lurking around the foundation. Those small fires can readily ignite your whole home.

  At the moment, the fire danger in the Tri-Community area is rated as “HIGH” by the U. S. Forest Service. It’s time to get the weed-whackers, mowers, pruning shears, blowers and chain saws going to eliminate standing grass, brush and low-lying tree branches from around your home and out-buildings.

Attic vents and areas under porches can be reinforced against ember storms by installing fine metal screening and fine hardware cloth barriers. Those little pockets of leaves and dried plant materials around the foundation can be controlled by raking or through the use of a leaf blower.

  Don’t let those ember storms threaten your life and property, and if you are an Oracle resident, be sure to sign up at the Fire Department for a free Firewise Assessment of your property.    

Darin Richardson (4 Posts)


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