People think that dangerous wildfires occur only in the western United States, when in fact there is high fire activity in the south. Think of all the natural vegetation we have here!
Weather and fuel are elements that determine how likely we are to have a fire, how fast a wildfire will burn, the direction a wildfire will burn, the intensity, and our ability to control the fire.
Living in high vegetation areas and with more people using our wildlands, there is a greater chance of a fire starting. Today’s wildfires can burn intensely and be difficult to control. This means more loss of life, more property loss, more damage to natural resources, and a great expense to all.
So what can we do to live more safely in this environment?
*For one we can manage the vegetation around our house and create a “defensible space” (the area between a house and an oncoming wildfire that has been modified). It can be as simple as a well-maintained backyard. Remember that all vegetation, plants, and trees are potential fuels for a fire.
*We can keep plants shorter, change the arrangement of plants, increase moisture in the area, remove dead branches and leaves, mow dried grass, and remove low tree branches that come in contact with homes.
*Keep only small amounts of flammable vegetation, get rid of dead vegetation and flammable debris, and keep plants green and healthy during fire season.
*Routine maintenance of your landscape is the best thing you can do.
There are some plants that are more fire-resistant than others. They are less likely to ignite and they don’t burn so intensely. They have stems and leaves that are not oily or waxy and have a high moisture content. They are easy to prune and maintain and are drought resistant. Some common fire-resistant plants are Tulips, Red oak, Periwinkle, Vinca. Crepe Myrtle, Azalea, and Boston Ivy.
With spring right around the corner, let’s get our yards in shape!
For more information on wildfires in South Carolina go to www.state.sc.us/forest.