As the people in Lake Tahoe, California, know only too well, wildfires do happen and stopping them is a mammoth task. With 1,000 structures still in the path of the flames, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi could do little but sign the state of emergency declaration that came to his desk. Unfortunately, too many properties failed to follow the law and maintain the cleared land within the perimeter of the property that allows for a fire break in times like these. In order to protect homes and structures, firefighters need to access these “defensible zones” and gain access with their equipment. Prescriptions for maintaining the space include keeping the grass or brush mowed to four inches or less and removing cuttings; eliminating vertical fuel ladders like brush to bushes to tree canopies; keeping dead limbs and debris cleared; maintaining space between trees—20 feet between trees is recommended. CNN quotes Garamendi as saying, “‘If you’re not doing that, you’re running a risk for yourself, and you’re running a risk for the firefighters that might come to protect that home.'” It is critical that homeowners in wildfire zones take the time to maintain their properties—including their roofs and their clear space— for their own sake and the lives of those who work to protect them.


Guidelines for Creating Defensible Space