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

Incumbent city councillor Laurey-Anne Roodenburg hopes for four more years

Roodenburg has sat on City Council for the past 10 years

Cariboo Memorial Hospital redevelopment plan should be completed end of 2018

Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District hopes to meet directly with the project team for a direct update

CRD opens survey on 2018 wildfire response and impacts

The CRD closed its emergency operations centre this week

Pulled cattle guards going back in place despite B.C. Interior First Nations moose hunt protest

Forests minister Donaldson and TNG Chief Alphonse discuss situation, agree on path forward, ministry says

Cody Dillabough drops out of race for Quesnel City Council

The deadline for the withdrawal of candidates is Sept. 21 at 4 p.m.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only seven of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

B.C. wildfires burned large areas affected by mountain pine beetles: Experts

The mountain pine beetle epidemic affected more than 180,000 square kilometres in B.C.

Tens of thousands without power following tornado in Ottawa region

Hydro Ottawa says more than 170,000 customers were without power early this morning

BALONEY METER: Do Liberal policies mean a typical family is $2,000 richer?

MPs took to Twitter to talk how ‘typical’ Canadian families have more money due to Liberal policies

Most Read