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La Pine Fire reminder: Time to prepare ‘defensible space’


The snow in Central Oregon has finally begun to melt away and now is a great time to clear out the debris and clutter that has accumulated. The La Pine Rural Fire Protection District would like to ask residents and landowners to clear a defensible space in preparation of the upcoming wildland fire season.

Defensible space is actually survivable space for you and your home when a wildfire strikes. Homeowners are strongly encouraged to maintain three different zones of defensible space around their property.

Zone 1 is the area within 30 feet of your home. Structures should be “hardened” to prevent wind-driven wildfire sparks igniting your home. This zone should be clear of all combustibles (like leaves and pine needles) including roofs, gutters and decks. Firewood stacks and propane tanks should not be within this zone. Zone 1 should have green or hard landscaping, fire resistive plants and shrubs (no juniper!) and fire resistive patio furniture should be considered.

Zone 2 is the area out to 100 feet from your home. Trees should be thinned (favoring the fire resistant ponderosa pine and aspen) as so their canopies do not touch and their branches trimmed up to at least 6 -8 feet from the ground. All ladder fuels (dead branches, brush) should be removed as so a ground fire cannot get up into the tree canopy.

Zone 3 is the area beyond 100 feet from your home. A 50 foot fire break or trees thinned as above. Remove any pine tree that has a stem diameter less than 4″. Reduce ladder fuels. Ensure driveways have a minimum 12 foot wide driving surface and are clear of vegetation 20 feet wide.

Property owners have three options for dealing with removed trees, brush and limbs. (1) Chip-in-place, the wood chips on the forest floor are much less of a fire hazard and will slowly compost into the soil. (2) Haul to compost transfer sites. Free yard debris weekends this year are: Bend, Knott – May 6 -14, Sunriver, Cottonwood – May 5 -6; and La Pine, Hwy 97 Transfer – June 2 -3. (3) Yard debris pile burning is currently open within the La Pine Rural Fire Protection District with an expected closure around Mid-May. Permits are required and are available at or any fire station.

Wildland defensible (survivable) space is a continual and ongoing process. Do a little bit every season – but start today .

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