If you live in a manicured subdivision with fire hydrants close at hand, then your risk should be pretty low ... Right? Well, again, that depends. The bad news is that even homes that are several blocks away from wooded areas can be vulnerable to wildfire.
Embers can start spot fires up to a mile beyond the leading edge of an intense wildfire. Little things like leaves in the gutter or wicker patio furniture ignited by embers can start house fires. Your local fire department could be stretched so thin from battling multiple wildfires that they might not be able to respond to your house fire in time.
The good news is that fire can’t survive without small fuels to ignite and larger fuels to burn. Homes and landscapes that have been designed or modified to be ignition-resistant are much more likely to survive wildfire. In many cases, the fire will burn up toward the house and then die out when it meets ignition-resistant surfaces.
This one-minute video from Firewise.org shows a real-life case where a Firewise home survived a wildfire that burned the home next door to the ground. Watch, learn and prepare to be Firewise.
Be Wise. Be Firewise.
Judith Leraas Cook of Firewise USA created this slide show for arborists, but it's a great introduction for everyone interested in how Firewise strategies work.
Wildfire can race rapidly uphill, so houses on slopes need more than the minimum defensible space. The rule of thumb is that for each degree of slope over 10 degrees, you should add one additional foot of defensible space to the 30 to 60 foot minimum. For example, if your home is on a 30 degree slope, add 20 feet to the minimum for a total of 50 to 80 feet.
Measure degrees of slope with a protractor shown in the photo (instructions here). You can buy an inexpensive protractor at most office supply stores.