Most people believe that wildfires ignite homes through direct contact with flames, but it is rare to have a home ignite this way. Flaming brands and embers can travel a mile or more ahead of the active front of a wildfire, and up to 60 percent of wildland urban interface home ignitions result from embers.
Taking small steps throughout the year can significantly improve wildfire preparedness and community resiliency. Right now is a great time to start taking action on home hardening to prepare for seasonal wildfires.
Rain gutters attached to the edge of your roof are perfect for catching embers during a wildfire. Burning embers can land in the gutters, and if filled with dried leaves, pine needles, and twigs, a fire can start and possibly ignite the roof, roof sheathing, and fascia. Even houses with fire-rated roofs are vulnerable to this type of ember attack. Rain gutters made of vinyl will melt and drop into flower beds, igniting plants next to the house and even combustible siding.
To keep your home safe: Remove all dried leaves, pine needles, or other materials from your rain gutters before fire season. Over the winter, debris often accumulates in them. Keep your ladder handy and check your rain gutters throughout the fire season, cleaning them out as necessary.
Please work safely by using proper ladder use and protective gear. Being neighborly is part of your preparedness plan. Don't be afraid to ask a neighbor for help. You can also return the favor and be a helping hand!