No matter where you live, the most common reason homes burn during a wildfire is because embers land on something easily ignitable around the home. Remove leaves and pine needles from your rain gutters. Make changes now to reduce the ember threat to your home.
Flaming brands and embers can travel a mile or more ahead of the active front of a wildfire and up to 60 percent of wildland/urban interface home ignitions result from embers.
Most of the activity that makes a home less vulnerable to ignition focuses on the home and its immediate surroundings. Our Ember Aware campaign is intended to educate people on the risks of ember cast and the actions they can take to reduce those risks, to encourage residents to harden their homes against embers and/or to maintain those ember-resistant features, and to practice ember-safe housekeeping and landscaping. You can learn more at emberaware.com
Tip number two: Unclutter the gutter.
Rain gutters attached to the edge of your roof are perfect for catching embers during wildfire. Burning embers can land in the gutters, and if they are filled with dried leaves, pine needles and twigs, a fire can start and possibly ignite the roof, roof sheathing and fascia. Even houses with fire-rated roofs are vulnerable to this type of ember attack. Rain gutters made of vinyl will melt and drop into flower beds, igniting plants next to the house and maybe even combustible siding. To keep your home safe, we suggest that you:
- Remove all dried leaves, pine needles or other materials from your rain gutters before fire season.
- Keep a ladder handy and check your rain gutters throughout the fire season, cleaning them out as necessary.
- If a wildfire is approaching and there is no time to clean out the debris, plug the rain gutter downspout with a tennis ball, or something similar so that the downspout will be plugged, and fill the rain gutter with water.
Fire Marshal Dwight Good serves the Morgan Hill Fire Department and South Santa Clara County Fire Protection District and the CalFire Santa Clara Unit.