Wildfire preparation urged

Even though there's ice on the ground, Ashland firefighters are trying to get hillside residents to think about wildfire prevention.

"This is the time of year that this kind of work should be done, in the winter and spring," said Chris Chambers, forest resource specialist with Ashland Fire & Rescue. "We like to get most of the projects completed before fire season."

To that end, Ashland Fire & Rescue is giving county grant money to wildfire-zone homeowners who are doing work to create defensible space around their homes.

As much as $500 is available to homeowners who live in the city limits or just outside them, Chambers said. Residents can use the grant money to thin vegetation, landscape with native plants or upgrade their house to make it more fire-safe before fire season begins in June.

This summer two Ashland fires had the potential to destroy dozens of homes and char the city's watershed, Chambers said. The larger of the two blazes, the Siskiyou fire — which burned one home, where little defensible space work had been done — served as a wake-up call to some homeowners, he said.

"The Siskiyou fire showed that this work is extremely important in the wildfire area," Chambers said.

Ashland Fire & Rescue has enough money to give the Fire-wise Communities Grant to about 75 more homeowners, Chambers said. More than half of homeowners in the city's wildfire zones have not created suitable defensible space around their homes, he said.

A handful of residents, including Chick and Jean Francis, have already received the grant.

The couple used the funds to remove a few cypress trees growing against their home on Thornton Way and to screen off their deck, to prevent leaves and other fire fuel from collecting underneath.

They also work to thin vegetation on their six acres of land, overlooking the watershed.

From their deck, they could see the smaller of the two wildfires that erupted this summer in Ashland: the Wellsprings fire.

"It was concerning," Chick said. "We were glad we had done the work on our property."

For more information on the Fire-wise Communities Grant, contact Chambers at 552-2066 or chamberc@ashland.or.us.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

Share This Story