Feature Articles

Avoid fires: rake ‘em up

By Pete Gawda

The Colorado State Forest Service ultimately places the responsibility to protect property and investments from wildfires on homeowners; however, there is plenty of advice from the experts on how to mitigate potential damage.

With the arrival of autumn and falling leaves, Falcon Fire Chief Trent Harwig urges everyone to keep pine needles raked up, and make sure that tree limbs, mulch and other combustible materials are 5 feet away from their homes. Those efforts will help prevent homes from catching fire from both direct flames and radiant heat. Harwig also advises people to keep their grass closely mowed.

“One of the things people neglect is their barns and sheds,” he said. While they keep combustible material raked away from their homes, he said they forget to do the same for their outbuildings. It is also a good idea to keep rain gutters free from leaves so dead leaves cannot catch sparks from a fire. 

Harwig also discourages people from using pine bark as landscaping material close to their homes. 

The Colorado State Forest Service urges families to clean pine needles and other debris from decks and roofs and remove combustible fences and gates within 5 feet of their homes. Vents leading into the home are often neglected. According to the CSFS,  vents should be covered with a 1/8-inch metal mesh to prevent embers from entering them. In addition to cleaning individually owned properties, the fire service also encourages families to work with neighbors to reduce fire hazards in common areas.  

The Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management recommends cutting low hanging tree branches and branches that overhang roofs and chimneys; along with  moving wood piles at least 50 feet from the home

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