Firefighters from the Air and SERVPRO Restoring Homes in the Santa Monica Area from the Ground Battle Wildfires
Why SERVPRO Recommends Careful, Strategic Landscaping to Minimize Impact from Wildfires to Homes in Los Angeles
All fire needs some kind of fuel to continue burning, regardless of how powerful the blaze might seem. Wildfires are no exception. They cause damage to homes and businesses, and unfortunately, this can happen in Los Angeles, just like it does in more out-of-the-way locations.
The research data provided by the USDA's Forest Service is why SERVPRO recommends homeowners check their Los Angeles home's current landscaping. Certain arrangements, as well as a few specific items, can significantly increase your residence's risk of succumbing to a wildfire. Other items can minimize the risk to your property. Knowing the difference and acting on that knowledge can keep your home protected. Many families have returned after an evacuation to find their home undamaged while their neighbors fared much worse.
The Forest Service explains that there are three zones outside your home. Each zone provides a buffer against wildfires. Increasing the number of protective elements in each zone and decreasing the ones that permit fire to cone closer to your property.
In Zone 1, which spans directly next to the house and other buildings on the property to five feet away, At this close proximity, nothing combustible should exist. This includes welcome mats and many flower boxes or plant containers. These small objects can ignite the door, its frame, or other objects near the house. Mulched areas or spots with wood chips can also ignite and catch the siding of the house on fire. Embers can travel a long way because of their source. As the uppermost branches of taller trees burn, segments fall downward, still burning, with the fall causing them to grow even hotter. Large enough pieces can still burn after hitting the ground, breaking into smaller pieces.
In Zone 2, lawn furniture and shrubs placed between five and 30 feet away from structures on your property can give wildfires a pathway up to your house. Many ornamental plants are more likely to ignite because of the amount of wax, oil, or resin in their leaves and branches. Wood piles often catch fire during a wildfire, and it is recommended that homeowners place them at least 30 feet away from the house. This also helps to keep the termites away. The California lilac is one example of a fire-resistant plant that can help homeowners build an effective fire break around their home. Others include replacing fruit trees for conifers or pines, and water-loving ground covers, and shrubs like honeysuckle or sumac, instead of paving a walkway with wood chips or other materials that can burn, pave with concrete. Rubber chips or pellets under playground equipment can also ignite and burn much hotter than the wildfire. SERVPRO understands that these are stringent precautions and not easily accomplished, but SAFETY first.
Farther away from the structure, but still relevant is Zone 3. Starting at 30 feet away and reaching out to a hundred feet, the larger trees found on your property should occur in groups of three or less, and at least 30 feet apart. Shorter trees planted singly and spaced 20 feet apart have the same effect at minimizing risk. Regardless of where trees are located on your property, any branches that overhang the house or garage need to be trimmed.
Brush, dead leaves, dried grass clippings, pine needles that accumulate under trees are considered fine fuels and they can allow a wildfire to spread rapidly across your property and engulf your home. Eliminating these regularly protects your family, as well.
SERVPRO of Marina Del Rey / Westchester / El Segundo knows how important your family's safety is to you. We hope you use these tips to ensure your Playa del Rey or Playa Vista's property remains unaffected by wildfires. Contact us at (310) 333-0654 if you need help restoring your house or other property.