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Creating defensible space can save homes from wildfires

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REDDING, Calif. - Firefighters advise homeowners to create defensible space that could potentially save their properties from wildfires.

Defensible space means having enough clearance around your home to do two things: First, keep wildfire away from your house. Second, to allow firefighting crews space they need to get their equipment in to defend your house if it is in the path of a wildfire.

Homeowner Mathew Boone said he stays vigilant year-round to make sure his property is fire safe in case a wildfire hits.

Mathew Boone lives out in Old Shasta, and clearance has been a top priority for him since he moved in.

"We live in an area that's really prone to wildland fire, so I want to make sure that we had a good defensible space for the upcoming fire season," Boone said.

He even fire-proofed his house.

"We chose to build a stucco house because it's more fire-resistant. We have special roof caps to minimize some of the potential for sparks to enter into the attic," Boone said.

Defensible Space Inspectors stopped by Boone's house to make sure there were no fire hazards.

"The first 30 feet around your property is the most important. All the grasses are cut down, trees are lean, brushes cut, away from the properties, out to 100 feet," Boone said.

Other things to check are clearing out gutters, and any combustibles within ten feet of a chimney.

"Make sure all the pine needles are out of the roof, any leaves in the roof, stuff like that, that's all clean," Zulliger said.

Wood piles used to heat homes in the winter are now fire hazards stacked close to homes.

"In the summertime, those are all jackpots of fuel if you will, and should an ember fall from a nearby fire land in a woodpile next to a home, it can be devastating," Zulliger said, "We don't want the public to get the false sense of security because we've had so much rain this year. While we've had a lot of rain this year, we are going into fire season. It may just be starting a little later this year."

Grass should be a maximum of four inches tall, but mowing should be done early in the morning.

"We have been to many fires later than 10:00 a.m. in the morning that are caused from mower strikes, and it's not uncommon to get equipment-caused fires," Zulliger said.

Lower branches of trees should also be pruned to 15 feet.

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