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Wildfires remind us Verde Valley is also vulnerable to flames
Written by Trista Steers MacVittie   
Monday, 13 June 2011 00:00

Wildfire season arrived abruptly in parts of Arizona with three major wildfires raging across the state without signs of slowing down.

Thus far, Sedona and the Verde Valley have escaped major issues other than visible morning smoke.

While we watch firefighters battle the Wallow, Horseshoe 2 and Murphy fires, and families in the White Mountains evacuate their homes, it’s important to remember the same threat exists in our backyard.

It’s dry, it’s hot and it’s windy in the desert in June — the perfect recipe for an out of control forest or structural fire.

While we sit back and watch smoke fill the horizon in the distance it’s important to remember Sedona and other Verde Valley communities could be next.

We all live in wildland-urban interfaces, which is where human development meets the forest. The open space that surrounds our communities makes them appealing but also poses the threat of evacuation or loss due to wildfire.

The Wallow Fire forced evacuations of Sunrise, Greer, Blue River, Alpine, Nutrioso and several subdivisions along State Route 180 and State Route 191.

The good fortune of living in an area surrounded by the wild also brings with it responsibility, particularly when it comes to fire, whether its prevention or preparation.

More and more often wildfires are linked to people who’ve either set them purposely or accidently by carelessly handling flames and sparks. The first step is prevention, which starts with us.

Other fires, however, are started by Mother Nature herself to clean up old forests and rejuvenate life. Regardless of how a fire starts, preparation is needed to protect you and your home.

Firewise Communities urges homeowners in wildland-urban interface communities to take steps before a fire ignites to protect homes and families.

Firewise Communities offers the following tips to protect homes:

n Use non-combustible construction materials, such as stucco, brick and fiber cement siding on the exterior of homes.

n Consider using Class-A asphalt roof shingles, clay tile or slate roofing materials. These are more resistant to flames.

n Prune all trees so the lowest limbs are six to 10 feet from the ground and remove dead or overhanging branches.

n Use nonflammable landscaping materials, such as rock, pavers, annuals and high-moisture-content perennials within five feet of the home to create a defensible space area.

n Select low-growing plants to plant outside. Choose plants with high moisture content that are free of resins, oils or waxes that burn easily.

n Remove leaves and pine needles from gutters and around your home and attachments, such as garages, decks and fences

In the event of evacuation due to wildfire, preparing a home beforehand can make a difference in firefighters’ chances of saving it.


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