|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 27 April 2011 00:00|
The natural beauty of Arizona is what attracts many who call this place home.
That beauty doesn’t come without its own dangers.
In a dry desert climate, fire is an ever-present danger. Flames can spread across dry brush in the blink of an eye.
While fire is sometimes just nature’s way of clearing out the dead weight, that’s little consolation to a home or property owner who finds themselves in the path of the flames.
Fortunately, there are steps a property owner can take to help improve their chances of protecting their homes and investments should the flames draw near.
The Camp Verde Fire District is going to help some residents learn what they can do for protection, thanks to a $63,850 grant recently awarded by the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors. The district had to pay in a 10 percent funding match in order to be eligible for the award.
The grant money, provided through forest fees, will be used to help teach residents to prepare for the potential fire threat in particular areas that could be especially prone to danger.
Some of the money will be used for educational materials and a series of public meetings and workshops in areas near potentially flammable hot spots, said Barbara Rice, fire marshal and district spokeswoman.
Around Camp Verde, that includes areas like a portion of the Verde Lakes area, Horseshoe Bend and some of the properties farther out along Salt Mine Road.
“We’d like to be able to do this everywhere,” Rice said. “But the grant money has restrictions on how it can be spent.”
The money will also be used for performing assessments of some houses, Rice said.
“It’s about how to set up defensible space,” Rice said. “And it’s not just about the danger of wildfires. Any kind of fire can jump quickly from one property to another in the right conditions.”
The district has already been talking with some homeowners’ groups in the area, Rice said, and will show how the use of proper landscaping techniques can make all the difference protecting against fire.
According to the Arizona Division of Emergency Management, that includes everything from simple actions like removing dead brush and clearing tall grasses to making sure limbs are pruned properly to help prevent flames from leaping into the trees.
These public education efforts are a big part of what the grant is for, Rice said, but the money could also bring additional benefits to qualified property owners.
Once an assessment of a property is complete, some people may be eligible for assistance in getting a licensed landscaper to improve the defensible space around their property.
Rice said efforts will be gearing up as we approach the warm, dry months to come.
The risk of fire is expected to increase to above normal in parts of Arizona in May and June, according to projections issued by the Idaho-based National Interagency Fire Center. The projections cite drought conditions and decreased moisture as a result of the current La Niña weather patterns as potential contributors to an increased fire risk.
For more information about the district’s upcoming grant-funded educational programs, call the Camp Verde Fire District at 567-9401.
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