Timing Right For Creating Defensible Space - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Timing Right For Creating Defensible Space

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It's that time of the year when people get outside to do some spring yard work. But officials say when you're doing that work, it's also important to keep fire safety in mind.

Landscapers and tree removal companies are already having a busy season, and what they do could make homes safer in the future.

We caught up to one crew that was pruning a tree that rises above two houses. It's also drying out. "It gets to a point where it cracks," Duke Kochamp, Cascade Tree Service said. "That's when it's really dangerous."

The branches could get dry enough to fall or leave the tree vulnerable to catching fire. "We're having a drought and there's a lot of trees that are going this year," Kochamp said. "They're going to be drying up, so there's going to be a lot of work for us to do."

Some trees in that neighborhood bare the evidence of the Caughlin Fire, more than two years ago.

Electra Larsen says she lost 50 years of her life in the fire that almost completely destroyed her southwest Reno home.

She says she knows the importance of defensible space, so noise from the chainsaw is a welcome sound. "I need to know for my peace of mind because I would never survive another fire," Larsen said.

But good defensible space is more than just trimming back trees. Officials say you should have 30 feet of protection around your house. "The easiest thing is to start at the house and work your way out," Sonya Sistare, Living With Fire Project Coordinator said.

Things like cleaning up dry pine needles and leaves could mean the difference between your house surviving or burning during a wildfire. Especially vegetation underneath the trees. "All this collection of pine needles that drop throughout the years and just accumulates down here," Sistare said. "Imagine an ember landing in that, how quickly that would ignite."

Officials say one of the most important things a home owner can do is remove any junipers from their property, or at least 30 feet from the house.

Sistare compares juniper pine needles to little green gas cans that can easily catch fire.

Written by Paul Nelson
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