The recent Doce Fire, just west of Prescott, highlights the threat to homes and property in communities across Arizona. According to news reports, the fire has burned more than 7,500 acres in Prescott National Forest and has prompted several hundred residents to evacuate in a number of nearby neighborhoods. Dry and windy conditions continue to contribute to an outbreak of wildfires across the state and much of the west, including New Mexico, California and Colorado; many homes and commercial properties remain under threat.
Many local residents, however, have already taken steps to reduce their wildfire risk. Using proven principles for wildfire safety, 51 communities in Arizona have participated for several years in the national Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program, which emphasizes community involvement and helps residents learn how to do their part to keep their homes and property safer from wildfire.
Participating Firewise communities near Prescott include Timber Ridge, the very first recognized Firewise Communities/USA site in the nation, in addition to Highland Pines, Forest Trails, Hidden Valley Ranch - a recognized community since 2006, The Foothills, Hassayampa, Southview Trails Community Association, Yavapai Hills Home Owners Association, Cathedral Pines, Walker, Kingswood and Manzanita Village Cohousing. Additional communities in Yavapai County include The Mountain Club, Haisley Homestead, Quail Hollow, Forest Hylands, Santa Fe Springs and The Ranch at Prescott.
A list of all Arizona Firewise-recognized sites can be found on the Firewise website.
Wildfire doesn't have to burn everything in its path. In fact, cleaning your property of debris and maintaining your landscaping are important first steps. Below are actions residents can take to reduce the risk of homes and property becoming fuel for a wildfire:
Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This helps prevent embers from igniting your home.
Keep lawns hydrated and maintained. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
Remove flammable materials within five feet of the home's foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don't let it touch the house, deck or porch.
Limit vegetation surrounding the home's perimeter, at least 30-200 feet, depending on the area's wildfire risk. The Firewise Guide to Landscaping and Construction can help distinguish the best vegetation based on distance to the home or structure. Firewise landscaping and plants list are also available on the Firewise website.
A comprehensive Firewise tips checklist for homeowners is available.
Those interested in making a lasting change to their home can consider a Firewise construction approach, which means building with less-flammable materials for homes, decks, porches and fences. This includes using Class-A roofing materials such as asphalt shingles and metal, cement and concrete products. Double-paned or tempered glass windows also make a home more resistant to heat and flames.
The Firewise Communities Program is a key component of the fire adapted communities approach. Fire Adapted Communities connects all those who play a role in wildfire education, planning and action with comprehensive resources to help reduce risk. The combination of mitigation efforts strengthens a community's resiliency for the next wildfire.
Learn more about how to keep families safe and reduce homeowners' risk for wildfire damage at www.Firewise.org. Additionally, complimentary brochures, booklets, pamphlets, videos and much more can be found on the information and resources page of the website, ordered online through NFPA's online wildfire safety catalog and on the Fire Adapted Communities âmedia and outreachâ page.