Preventing Disaster: Keeping it Clean, Green, and Lean

By: Denise Wong Email
By: Denise Wong Email

GARDNERVILLE, NV - Experts predict we could see a lot more raging fires this summer with all of the dry brush that's been building up. That's why now is the best time to clear out any combustible plants and dead vegetation around your home. As one woman who lives in the Topaz Ranch Estates area told KOLO 8 News Now, doing that saved her house.

"Well, I thank our lucky stars that we scraped up our property," says Estelle Whalen. She shows off how close the TRE Fire got to her home last week. It burned half of her property; the half she and her husband did not clear out last fall. But today, she's focused on the half they did clean out. She says it's why her house was untouched by flames when the TRE Fire tore through her neighborhood last week. When the fire broke out, she wasn't home. And she had no idea what she would find when she got there.

"All I knew was that we had taken precautions and had cleared out our property," she says. "And I was hoping that helped."

It did keep away the flames.

"Because there was no fuel on the ground it had to search for fuel and stayed away," says Whalen.

Firefighters have been stressing how important it is to create defensible space around your home.

"We're in extreme drought conditions. Fuels are very, very dry and whenever the wind goes, we have the potential for fires to go very big very fast," says Sandy Munns, a fire behavior analyst for the City of Reno Fire Department. "Defensible space is absolutely critical. We're trying to make sure homeowners do everything they can to help themselves and make their place defensible. The simplest way we can do that is we start with three feet of non-combustible space between your house and landscaping. The second is 30 feet out, keep it clean, green, and lean."

He explains that that means keep the area clean of dead weeds and leaves.

"Keep it clean, keep it well maintained around your home and have that defensible space - it's what's going to save your house this summer," says Munns.

Estelle Whalen couldn't agree more.

"Do it, do it," she says. "We don't have a tractor. We had a friend and we borrowed their tractor and because of them and their tractor, we can now say our house is here."

For more information on creating a defensible space zone, visit:

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