UTAH (ABC4) – It’s that time of the year in Utah…wildfire season! The dry conditions plus winds is the recipe for those fires.

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Increased wildfires result in widespread damage and even potential displacement from our homes. According to the Congressional Research Service, as of May 2, more than 21,200 wildfires have already impacted over 1.1 million acres this year. 

So what should you do to prepare for these wildfires?

Here are some tips by to help you be prepared:

1. Create a home ignition zone 

Pay special attention to the 5 feet immediately around your home. This area should be designed and maintained to be free of any materials that could ignite and spread fire to the home. Ensure yard debris and dead plant material does not accumulate in this zone.

  • Use hardscape like gravel, pavers, concrete, and other non-combustible mulch materials in a 5-foot zone around your home
  • While best practice is to have no vegetation, limited use of CalFire-recommended vegetation can keep your risk low.
  • Do not park boats, RVs, or other vehicles in this zone
  • Do not store firewood, outdoor furniture, or other items such as trash cans, pet houses, lawn tools, children’s playsets, etc., in this zone.
  • Ensure that where the lowest 6 inches of the exterior wall meets the ground is covered with a noncombustible material such as brick, stone veneer, or exposed concrete of the foundation.

2. Remove items under your deck

To prevent your deck from igniting and spreading fire to your home, do not use the area under decks as long-term storage.

  • It is best practice to store items long-term either indoors or at least 30 feet from the home if possible. It is also a good habit to avoid storing any items under your deck, even temporarily, and to consider this area as part of your home ignition zone. 
  • If not possible, on days with Red Flag warnings (when there is high fire danger), plan to move any items temporarily stored beneath the deck―as well as outdoor furniture and other items on top of your deck―indoors, into your garage, or at least 30 feet from your home. (But be mindful not to place them near your neighbors.) However, note this is not ideal as it wastes valuable time if a fire develops near you and evacuation is necessary.

3. Replace combustible fencing or gates attached to the home

If you have fencing attached to your home that is made of combustible materials such as wood or plastic, replace any sections that are within 5 feet of your home with metal or other non-combustible versions, including replacing combustible gates attached to your home). This helps prevent the fence from acting as a wick spreading fire to your home.

If possible, choose open or lattice fencing or gates instead of solid privacy panels to allow embers to pass through rather than accumulate. This adds even more protection to the 0-5 foot home ignition zone.

4. Trim Trees

  • Remove branches that overhang your roof or gutters.
  • Trim the bottom of trees so that all branches are at least 6 feet from the ground and at least 3 times higher than any shrubs nearby.
  • Trim upper branches of trees to ensure they are at least 10 feet away from branches of neighboring trees.
  • Work with your neighbors to address any trees near the property line that affect both properties.

5. Clear yard debris

Make sure yard debris such as leaves and pine needles haven’t accumulated on your roof or in gutters. A monthly check and maintenance are recommended. Embers can easily start fires in these areas. Also, make sure areas around fences and underneath gates are free of debris; this is another area where embers can collect, smolder and ignite