Junk the Juniper

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RENO, NV - A tree surrounding your home may be the type officials say is more dangerous during a wildfire. As part of Wildifire Awareness Month, experts are suggesting people junk the Juniper.

Junipers are oily and they tend to burn hotter than others during a wildfire. This would not really matter if the tree were burning in the middle of the desert. It's when a one of these trees catches fire near a home that we have problems.

"We've got low fuels. We've got some defensible and survivable space between the low fuels and the structure," said Amy Ray, Fire Marshal for Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District.

"You create an area where a fire is not going to be able to move and propagate through there. So you want to have sparse plants. You want to have smaller trimmed plants," said Ray.

Homeowners will want to watch out for any plant in the Juniper family. They are very oily and burn with high intensity so they're not safe immediately next to a house.

"Keep them small and trimmed or to remove them altogether because they intensify the heat of a fire next to a residence," said Ray.

The problem specifically with junipers is pretty evident if you look is look below the surface. The bushes like a perfectly healthy plant but when you pull back the leaves and look inside... There is just dead vegetation everywhere waiting to catch fire.

"The embers land inside the juniper crown and sit there and smolder in the dead leaf material." said Ed Smith with Livingwithfire.info

Ed Smith explains, first responders may not know there is fire in the brush until it erupts into flames.

"These junipers have been known to ignite after everyone is gone and destroy homes," said Ed Smith.

That's why the best solution is just to keep plants Junipers and otherwise a safe distance away from structures.

"No vegetation up against a residence whatsoever so that you can maintain that space and keep that heat down," said Ray.

On Saturday, local fire agencies will accept cut down tree and bushes at the NDF fire station in Washoe Valley.

In exchange for a tree they'll get a 20% off coupon to Moana Nursery where they can buy a fire safe plant.