With three of the last five summers bringing extreme wildfire danger to communities throughout the Kootenays, Rossland homeowners are encouraged to spend a few hours on Saturday, April 30, cleaning up their own yards.
FireSmart program coordinator Don Mortimer encourages Rossland residents to participate in Wildfire Hazard Cleanup Day.
He advises home owners and residents to mitigate fire dangers in their yard by gathering dry grass, branches and other forest debris and move it out to the curb area for free curbside pickup by the City of Rossland starting May 2.
“This summer’s fire season is fast approaching and the time to prepare is now,” said Mortimer.
“If you think you’ll have time to do your FireSmart work when a wildfire is approaching your home, you will not, that time is very hectic and let’s not forget that you may not even be present at your home – evacuated or away on vacation.”
An important focus of Wildfire Hazard Cleanup Day is clearing deadfall, which includes loose branches and other debris that have accumulated over the winter.
FireSmart guidelines advise homeowners to remove combustibles or vegetation within 1.5 metres of your home, and no conifers within 10 metres.
“Wildfires burning near town can send burning embers into your yard and coniferous (evergreen) trees growing within 10 metres of homes with lower branches close to the ground can become flaring torches spreading wildfire to the house. Taking the lower branches off these high hazard trees will help prevent this torching and also allow homeowners to access and remove dry needles, dead grass and other debris that builds up under unpruned trees over the years.”
Removing all combustible material or flammable vegetation from within 1.5 metres of the home is also critical. This includes combustible bark or shredded garden mulch, while popular with gardeners the mulch material may also provide a route for embers to spark fires on decks, fences or houses.
Certain trees and shrubs should also be avoided. Rockery junipers, mugo pines or cedar bushes can easily flare up on a hot summer day and ignite the house.
“These are all conifers and should not be close to your home or deck,” said Mortimer.
“Next time you are walking by a cedar hedge or juniper bush – reach down and open the branches up – you’ll be amazed at how much dead, highly flammable vegetation has accumulated under the exterior branches of that landscape conifer.”
This year’s vegetation and debris will again be hauled to Rossland’s FireSmart Debris Disposal Composting Site on the edge of Centennial Park.
The FireSmart Program is a pioneer in ‘greening up’ community wildfire hazard reduction efforts.
“We’ve been composting all of the wildfire hazardous vegetation from our FireSmart resident programs right here in town since 2018,” said Mortimer “It’s working really well – saving the City of Rossland money with minimal trucking, no landfill fees and no burning.
“In the last two years we’ve added over 280 dump truck loads to the site.”