An aerial view of the Tautri Complex fire taken in summer 2017. The Tautri Complex fire was later banded into the larger named Plateau Fire by the Cariboo Fire Centre. (BC Wildfire Service)

10 ways to protect your property from wildfire

On the one-year anniversary of the 2017 fires, we look at how homeowners can protect themselves

Dana Sharman

Observer Contributor

Saturday, July 7 marks the one-year anniversary of the B.C. wildfires. On that day in 2017, a two-hectare wildfire began west of 100 Mile House B.C., kicking off B.C.’s record-breaking season. This year, more than 170 fires have already broken out across the province, though a majority of them have since been extinguished.

Fires are a natural part of the forest ecosystems in Canada. The burning recycles nutrients and improves the habitat for animals. It is also good for trees in the long run. It clears the forest floor of debris allowing existing trees to grow stronger and healthier. However, they can be devastating to those located near a wildfire-prone zone. Perennially, they pose a significant risk to communities and businesses located close to forests.

FirstOnSite Restoration, Canada’s leading independent disaster restoration services provider, has been on the frontlines of the decades’ largest forest fires, including last years B.C. wildfires, the Fort McMurray wildfire and the Slave Lake wildfire in 2011. Assisting with air quality assessment and restoration, FirstOnSite has significant experience with large-loss catastrophe scenarios.

How to prepare for a wildfire

Here are 10 ways you can protect your property from a wildfire, whether you’re a commercial property owner, property manager or homeowner:

Create a 10-metre defensible space around your property. Fire needs fuel to burn. Clear away any highly combustible materials, such as twigs, branches, leaves, tree needles, brush, woodpiles and mulch.

Make your roof fire-resistant and clear away gutter debris. Wood shingles are extremely flammable. Roofs constructed from non-flammable materials, such asphalt, metal, slate or tile, offer the best possible protection against fire. If replacing a wooden roof is not immediately possible, it can also be treated with fire retardant. Debris can easily ignite from sparks or embers, so keep your gutters clean. You can also screen them with metal mesh to reduce the amount of debris that can build up.

Keep embers out. Any opening can allow sparks and embers to enter your property. Precautions include screening vents with wire mesh, protecting eaves with soffits and fascia made from fire-resistant materials, repairing any loose shingles, and sealing doggy doors during wildfire season.

Remove close by coniferous trees. Coniferous trees (with cones and needles) are extremely flammable, whereas deciduous (leafy) trees are naturally fire-resistant. Any coniferous tree within 10 metres of your property is a serious fire hazard. Beyond 10 metres, space out coniferous trees by at least three metres.

Prune your trees. If you do have trees surrounding your property, make sure to prune lower branches regularly. For coniferous trees, remove branches within two metres of the ground.

Keep your lawn mowed. Grasses shorter than 10 centimetres are a much lower fire risk. Well-watered grass also helps stop flames from spreading (provided your area does not have water restrictions).

Create a “bug-out” bag and an action/evacuation plan. The bag should contain a fire extinguisher, bottled water, non-perishable food, first aid kit, survival blanket, two-way radios, cell phone charger, N95 respirators and important documents (copies of insurance paperwork, personal identification). An action plan should detail pre-planned evacuation routes, an emergency meeting location, an evacuation plan for pets and/or livestock, and last minute-steps such as moving away any fuel tank close to buildings, including propane tanks and jerry cans.

Find a “fire-resistant zone” near your home. This could be a tilled field or large paved area, free of vegetation. This spot will allow you a resource should a wildfire approach quickly and regular routes are not viable.

Work with your neighbours. If a nearby property ignites, your property is under threat. It is important to make fire preparation a community activity, especially if you live in a densely populated area.

Ensure you have adequate insurance coverage. Check your insurance policy to ensure your home and belongings are sufficiently insured, and that your policy is up to date.

READ MORE: Comstock Lake Fire Complex disbanded, fire being held


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Quesnel’s trail building community just got a lot bigger

A new CNC course gives students a well-rounded education in track design, building and maintenance

Five fires reported in Quesnel in last eight hours

Quesnel Fire Department responded to vehicle, dumpster and other fires overnight and this morning

Reid Street construction on pause for Billy Barker Days

Crews will shut down construction to minimize disruption during the festival

Tarp structure on Warden Street to be removed

Property owner has 30 days to comply with the city’s request

SD28 reveals new school bus schedule; hits back at City Council

District says Board of Education did not make formal request to alter BC Transit schedule

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Kitten OK after being rescued from underground pipe in B.C.

An adventurous feline has been rescued after getting trapped in an underground pipe in Kamloops, B.C.

A day after back-tracking, Trump defends summit performance

Amid bipartisan condemnation of his embrace of a longtime U.S. enemy, Trump at first sought to end 27 hours of recrimination by delivering a rare admission of error Tuesday.

Thai soccer players rescued from cave meet the media

Members of the Thai youth soccer team who were trapped in a cave have left the hospital where they have been treated since their rescue.

Elon Musk apologizes for calling cave rescue diver a ‘pedo’

Musk called a British diver involved in the Thailand cave rescue a pedophile to his 22.3 million Twitter followers on July 15.

Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Most Read