“We’re asking people to develop defensible space,” said park Fire Information Officer Donna Nemeth. “This means maintaining the area around their homes by removing fuel and mitigating the risk of wildland fire.”
She adds that creating a clear space around buildings also gives firefighters a safe and unobstructed area in which to work in case of fire.
Residents are asked to create a defensible perimeter of at least 15 feet around the home, free of pine needles, grass, pine cones, twigs, weeds and other potential fuels. Firewood, lumber and other large concentrations of fuels should be located at least 30 feet from any structure and at least 15 feet from propane tanks. Collected materials may be bagged and placed in dumpsters.
“It’s a simple as maintaining your backyard – your front yard too,” said Nemeth.
Wood chips left behind from APS’ tree trimming project don’t present the same fire danger as needles, twigs, dried grass and duff if they are used for landscaping.
“The chips themselves don’t post much fire danger,” said South Rim Fire Management Officer Chris Marks. “The air can’t move through them very well, as opposed to pine needles and grass. That’s what moves the fire.”
A park-wide mechanical treatment project to prune or remove trees and create space around homes is about 40 percent done with work scheduled to resume early this month, concentrated in the South Rim’s historic district. Last fall, the crews cleared vegetation in Trailer Village and Pinion Park.
“They’re thinning defensible space up to 30 feet around homes and structures,” Nemeth said.
Learn more about creating defensible space at http://cals.arizona.edu/firewise/ or by checking out the instructional videos available at the South Rim fire office.
For more information, call 638-7939.