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How to stay safe with defensible space

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CHICO, Calif. - As wildfire season nears, people can prepare by creating defensible space.

Defensible space is the area around a home that has been cleared to reduce fire danger.

According to Firewise.org, the area surrounding a home is divided into three zones.

Zone 1: 30 feet from the home Zone 2: 30 to 100 feet from the home Zone 3: 100 to 200 feet from the home

In Zone 1, the lawn should be mowed regularly and woodpiles should be removed.

In Zone 2, leave 20 to 30 feet between clusters of 2 to 3 trees and create "fuel breaks" by laying gravel.

In Zone 3, the vegetation should be thinned so tall tree canopies do not touch.

Chico Fire Interim Chief, Bill Hack, said Zone 1 is what commonly applies to homes within cities.

Hack said some parts of the City of Chico are more susceptible to wildfires than others. This is especially true for homes that exist in a Wildland Urban Interface, or WUI.

"It's where wildland abuts homes and subdivisions," said Hack.

Hack said sometimes, those living in the city don't consider creating defensible space since they believe a wildfire is more likely to happen on the outskirts of town.

That same mentality was what some San Diego urban homeowners had, "Specifically in the San Diego area where people look at an urban subdivision--they were completely wiped out", Hack said.

Hack said that something as small as an ember, can grow to destroy a home. Creating less flammable surface area for those embers to land, can be key to saving your home.

This includes removing patio furniture and clearing out gutters.

Chico Fire Engine 4 provided KRCR with an exclusive demonstration on how quickly a leaf-filled gutter can ignite.

Hack said that while responding to wildfires, firefighters must choose how to best deploy their resources. If a home has no defensible space, they may choose to put more resources towards a home that has a better chance of surviving the flames.

"In every situation we are going to have to make those decisions if we are going to deploy our resources on this house, this house and this house, and we are not going to be able to apply our resources on these other houses," explained Hack.

Hack said it's vital that homeowners carve out time to prepare for wildfire season.

For more information on how to prepare you can go to Firewise.org.

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