BEND, Ore. -

Most Bend residents are experiencing the smoke throughout central Oregon from a fast-moving wildfire named the Two Bulls Fire, which swelled to 6,800 acres in the past two days.

Two Bulls was spotted by a lookout on Saturday afternoon where it quickly grew in a matter of hours, prompting numerous evacuations and some residents are still on alert to leave at a moments notice.

This fire is a searing reminder that we are now in fire season and we each have a responsibility to prepare our properties for wildfire. Project Wildfire reminds residents that it’s not too late to work on your defensible space. 

“With the abundant growth of vegetation across the county this spring, residents are strongly encouraged to cut their grass and weeds to four inches or less to keep potential fires low to the ground where hand crews can pick them up quickly,” says Alison Green, Program Director for Project Wildfire.  

Fire season is also a great reminder, that YOU are our greatest resource when it comes to protecting homes and neighborhoods.  With some simple steps you are able to protect your home and community from a wildfire.

Remember to keep your defensible space defined, keep grass and weeds cut low and always be prepared to respond to wildfire.

With this in mind, Project Wildfire urges you to take a look around your property in the “home ignition zone” where glowing embers can ignite spot fires and vulnerable areas like decks, patios and fences that can spread flames to your home.

“That last thing you want to think about is your defensible space when a wildfire is in your backyard,” says Alison Green, Program Director for Project Wildfire. “Defining the defensible space around your home is the most important thing you can do to protect your home and neighborhood.”

Where are your most vulnerable places for glowing embers to ignite your home?

  • Are your gutters and roof valleys free from debris like pine needles and leaves? Clean them out.  Despite a metal or asphalt shingle roof, the buildup of gutter debris provides necessary fuel for the glowing embers to ignite adjacent fascia boards or siding – most often made of wood.
  • Do your shrubs and weeds provide a path of fuel for fire to reach your trees or home?  Reduce shrubs and other “ladder fuels” around your home to reduce the threat of ground fires igniting nearby trees, or your home. 
  • What can catch fire on your deck or patio or near your fence?  Remove weeds, shrubs or any combustible materials from around, under or on top of your deck, patio or wood fence.   This includes toys, planters, construction materials, furniture and cushions along with even small piles of pine needles or leaves.  
  • Is your woodpile near your home or other combustible vegetation?  Move woodpiles at least 20 feet away from your home or other combustibles.

The greatest risk of homes catching fire during a wildland fire event is from the advancing ember shower that can reach your property long before an actual flame front. 

“The strong winds that are produced by a large fire can embers up to 3 miles away. These embers are “firebrands” that can ignite items such as patio furniture cushions, pine needles on your roof and weeds that have grown too tall,” says Green.  “Firefighting resources are limited locally so it’s up to individual residents to take responsibility for the defensible space around their homes and outbuildings,” she adds.

To address this threat Project Wildfire recommends the following steps that homeowners can take right now to help protect themselves against this very real threat in central Oregon:

  • Cut all grasses and weeds to 4” or less.
  • Clear all pine needles, weeds, leaves and flammable debris from around your home including on roofs; in gutters; near fences; and on, around and under decks – anywhere where glowing embers can ignite and spread fire to your home.
  • Reduce shrubs and other “ladder fuels” around your home that can spread fire to nearby trees or structures.
  • Trim up trees to prevent the spread of fire to the upper branches, or “crowns”.
  • Remove all dead, dying and diseased vegetation around your home – maintain healthy trees and shrubs.
  • Move wood piles at least 20 feet from your home and away from combustible materials or vegetation.
  • Keep driveways clear by trimming trees and cutting weeds for easy access of emergency equipment.

Visit www.firefree.org or www.firewise.org for more information about how you can prepare your property for wildfire season and Plan, Prep, Go guide. 

Or call the Project Wildfire office at 541-322-7129.