[Homestead] Fire safe was: Innumeracy and housebuilding

Don Bowen don.bowen at earthlink.net
Sun Sep 26 11:42:46 EDT 2004

At 9/25/2004, you wrote:
>We now live in fire country.  We are clearing a hundred feet around the
>house of trees and brush.  We're also going to put in a couple of water
>tanks.  We purposely bought on a private road that has its own volunteer
>fire department (two fire trucks) and already has tanks of water on every
>3rd parcel.

I have become a bit more experienced in fires than I would like.  We had 
one 8 years ago where we thought the house was gone and then one a year ago 
that burned my son's house to the ground and took my work truck.  I lost my 
bees again in the last one but with preparation the fire did not get near 
the house.  I did manage to stop the fire at the creek behind the house .

Fire management is fuel management.  Get the fuel under control and the 
rest becomes easier.  I cleared all the brush about 125' away from the 
house.  The first fire burned to within 40 feet because low grass and 
ornamentals shrubs provided fuel.  After that fire I cleared over 150' away 
and choose replacements carefully, looking for low growing plants with wet 
leaves.  I also disked fire breaks all over the place.  I keep the small 
brush cut back and cut the grass early in the spring to keep the total fuel 
load low.

The house has an air entrained concrete roof and double paned windows.  The 
eves are exposed but that is expensive to enclose with stucco.  I put metal 
screens in the gable vents because I saw ash in the attic after the fire.We 
only have annual flowers against the house.  Around the house is a small 
well  watered lawn and ice plant on the slops.  There is no path for fire 
to the house, minimal places for embers to lodge against flammable parts of 
the house,  and radiated heat is controlled.

The next fire was in a heavy wind.  Embers blowing heavy so I had to go 
fight it.  I have 2 ince water lines to the back of the property and all 
hoses are 3/4 inch.  I was able to knock the fire down as it came onto the 
property but the AHOLE neighbor had burning trash that threw embers all 
over the place.  That is how my bees burned again but I did keep a storage 
shed and camping trailer from burning.  After the fire in the daylight I 
could see that the fires burned to the fire breaks but no further.

After the last fire I saw no reason to make major changes to what I had 
done.  The neighbor is still a problem and will always be.  Unfortunately 
we are selling so it is up to the next person to look after the place.  One 
of the casinos is just to the east of us and several fires originate behind 
there.  The locals like to party in the weeds.

Don Bowen
Awl Knotted Up Woodworking
Valley Center, CA             http://www.braingarage.com

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