Protecting your home and property from Oklahoma's wildfires

Thursday, January 5th 2006, 2:20 pm
By: News On 6

Wildfires have now burned across 361,000 acres in Oklahoma and have destroyed more than 220 homes and businesses. What can you do to lower the chances of your home being damaged by wildfires?

News on 6 anchor Craig Day says in the five years the Lawrence family has lived in their rural Sand Springs home, fire has come dangerously close twice.

One blaze in November even forced them to evacuate. Ken Lawrence: "It's spooky. You look up and see the sky filled with fire. You can't control it; you can't do anything about it at this point." But the Lawrence's love the natural setting. So they want to make their home less vulnerable to wildfires. "You try to clear it out, get some away from the house and hope for the best."

Sand Springs Fire Chief Mark Joslin says cleaning up leaves is a positive first step. He says its good the Lawrence's have two driveways that can act as fire breaks. They've also removed some small trees and brush and have water hoses handy, but Joslin says more steps can be taken. "I would advise them to maybe take out some of those trees around the side, especially the ones that are touching the house there."

Firefighters would like to see a 30 foot clear zone around homes. Trees and shrubs should be pruned, yards watered and brush cleared. Firewood shouldn't be near the house and homeowners should remove ladder fuels, which is vegetation that serves as a link between grass and treetops.

Firefighters say one extremely important, but often overlooked step people can take is to make sure their address is clearly visible to emergency crews. It's also a good idea to have an evacuation plan and practice it in case you have to leave quickly.

Firefighters say a little planning and thinking ahead can make a difference in protecting homes, property and lives.

For more useful wildfire prevention information, you can take a look at the checklist.