Fire Safety Friday: Tree Spacing and Placement

Last week we discussed how you can reduce wildfire risk within the first 5 feet of your home. This week, we’ll cover tree spacing, placement, and what can be done in the next 5 to 30 feet (Intermediate Zone) around the home to improve the chances of it surviving a wildfire.

Home Ignition Zones

Defensible space is broken down into three different Home Ignition ZonesImmediate, Intermediate and Extended.

Trees within the Immediate (0-5 feet) and Intermediate (5-30 feet) zones can increase the chances of a wildfire damaging a home. Trees planted within 30 feet increase wildfire risk by creating a continuous path for fire to spread closer to a home during a wildfire event.

Proper tree placement and spacing increases the aesthetic value of a property while decreasing the chances of a wildfire damaging the home. When planting trees around homes, remember to use “Defensible Space” and consider the placement and spacing of trees and how these actions can reduce the risk of wildfire damage. Here are some recommendations for spacing trees in all three zones.

Tree placement and spacing increases the aesthetic value of a property while decreasing the chances of a wildfire damaging the home.

Here are a few more actions to improve the Intermediate zone. Maintaining the this zone makes it “Lean, Clean and Green.”

  • Lean – Ensure there are small amounts of flammable vegetation by planting fire-resistant plants as other vegetation dies.
  • Clean – Remove any accumulation of dead vegetation or other flammable debris.
  • Green – Water plants and grass to ensure they are healthy and green. In addition, mow lawns 4 inches high or shorter.

An Intermediate zone that is maintained “Lean, Clean and Green.” reduces the risk of a wildfire damaging a home.

A combination of wise tree placement, tree spacing, and maintaining the Intermediate Zone improves the chances of a home surviving a wildfire.

Stay tuned next week for recommendations on how to maintain a healthy and wildfire-resilient Extended zone.

If you are interested in more information or remote technical assistance, reach out to me at matthew.axe@kingcd.org or give me a call at 425-773-5060.

Matt Axe, Program Coordinator, Wildfire and Forest Resiliency

Thanks to our partners Washington State Department of Natural ResourcesKing County Department of Natural Resources and ParksEastside Fire and RescueVashon Island Fire and Rescue and more.

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