It was a perfect weekend for yard work as evident by the amount of debris brought in during the Sedona Fire District and U.S. Forest Service’s 15th annual cleanup day.
The three-day event, Friday through Sunday, May 19 through 21, was held at Station 4 in Uptown and is designed to encourage people to prepare their homes and yards for wildfire season.
“We did a lot of cleaning around our house last week so this is perfect timing,” said Todd Springer, of the Village of Oak Creek. “I grew up in Southern California so I’m well aware of what wildfires can do and how quickly they spread. Even if your property is not adjacent to the forest land, you still need to be prepared. Fire doesn’t discriminate as to where it burns.”
According to Fire Marshal Jon Davis, the cleanup brought in 160 cubic yards of waste thanks in part to 100-plus loads of grass and brush trimmings.
In all, SFD dedicated 90 man hours to the collection effort.
“The time and effort that we put into this program really pays off during fire season,” Davis said. “The effort that our citizens put into making their homes Firewise helps us protect their property by eliminating fuels and slowing the progress of fire should it reach their property line.”
Battalion Chief Jayson Coil agreed and added that they’re always concerned about the risk wildfire presents to the community.
“In addition to ensuring we are ready to respond to wildland fire, we provide this opportunity to make it easier for residents to do their part in protecting their home,” he said. “We are encouraged by the participation we see every year and encourage anyone that wishes to get further information on ways they can protect their home to call us for a free Firewise assessment.”
The cleanup is a way for SFD-area residents to dispose of their yard waste and combustible vegetation. SFD officials said protecting ones home from a wildfire starts with residents themselves.
Creating a defensible space within 30 feet of your home can greatly reduce the risk of a wildfire, he said. But if you don’t have 30 feet, start with the first 10 feet around your home. Tall, dry grasses provide a path for fire that can lead directly to your house.
“I have seen too many examples where a fire moves through a neighborhood and the only homes that are left standing are the ones where the homeowners took the time to do a little bit of fuels mitigation,” Davis said.
Removing tall dry grasses, leaves and pine needles from your roof and gutters decreases the flammability potential. Pruning tree limbs so the lowest is between six and 10 feet from the ground reduces ladder fuels — dead vegetation that allows the fire to climb.
“Defensible space may not completely eliminate the threat of fire reaching your house,” he said. “But by diminishing the speed and intensity of the fire you are buying time for crews to respond and battle the fire. Even if your house is not in the Wildland Urban Interface, defensible space is critical in protecting your house from any outside fire.”
If you missed this event, the city of Sedona is hosting a clean-up event, which runs through Friday, May 26, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the city maintenance yard located at 2070 Contractors Road.
Visit sedonafire.org or firewise.org to learn how to make your property safe from wildfire or call the Sedona Fire District at (928) 204-8926 for more information or to schedule a free wildfire home assessment.