Is Your Home Fire Wise?

Experts provide tips on how to protect your home from a wild fire

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) - As fires burn in Southern Utah coming close to homes and leaving hundreds worried about their property Unified Fire Authority and a Forestry and Wildlife expert are offering tips on how to protect your home.

"People move up into the hills like this because, partly because of the vegetation," says Mike Kuhns a professor of forestry and wild land resources at Utah State University.  

Down at the Saddle Fire in Pine Valley many of the homes were tagged with pink ribbons.  To fire officials it signaled that those homes weren't fire wise and many weren't.  Today Good4Utah met up with Kuhns and Unified Fire to talk about fire safety in Emigration Canyon.  

"In a fire prone landscape you wanna minimize the amount of trees," says Kuhns.

He says keeping vegetation about 100 ft away is ideal, as well looked at the homes he pointed out one in particular that was fire wise.

"This house has natural vegetation around it but maybe about 30 to 40 feet out the natural vegetation stops, they go down to what appears to be grass, mowed grass that's irrigated," says Kuhns.

He also pointed out that the home was surrounded by a sidewalk or with concrete adding another layer of protection from the home.  He says anything like a sidewalk or rocks within 3-5 feet of the home is great for an extra layer of protection.  He also says that if you want trees make sure they are few and spread out.  

Unified Fire says a good defensible space will give a home a greater chance of survival.

"A house fire ill usually not start with the fire itself.  It will usually start with the embers that are blown in there from the fire itself so, usually the flame front will pass a structure and then we'll have to deal with a fire burning," says Battalion Chief Doug Rice.

Kuhns also pointed out that most of the homes were visible meaning they were less likely to catch fire in the event of a fire.  He says it's those homes that are covered or hidden from sight by the vegetation that should be cleared.

If vegetation is necessary or wanted around the home Kuhns says be sure to have fire wise plants.

"Generally fire wise plants would be small, low to the ground, they grow slowly," he says.

Fire wise plants also tend to produce very little to no debris.  Unified Fire says the burning in the Saddle Fire in Pine Valley, Utah should be a good reminder for folks to fire wise their homes.  Though they are prepared and ready to fight a blaze up in the canyon they say they can't save every house and it is up to the residents to do what they can to protect their homes and help them out.

Fire Restrictions: Washington County, Iron County, Beaver County, and portions of Mojave County.  This includes all of Washington County and lands west of Interstate 15 in Iron and Beaver Counties only.  

 Bureau of Indian Affairs (Trust Lands of the Shivwits, Cedar, Indian Peaks, and Kaibab Band Reservations).
·        Bureau of Land Management (Utah/Arizona Strip).
·        Dixie National Forest (Pine Valley Ranger District).
·        National Park Service (Zion National Park and Pipe Springs National Monument).
·        Unincorporated privately owned and all state administered lands (Utah Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands). Incorporated towns and cities are not included in these restrictions. (Contact your local fire department for municipal restrictions).


 The following acts will be prohibited until further notice: 
1.       Igniting, building, maintaining, or using a fire, including charcoal and briquettes, outside a fire structure that is provided by the agency within a designated area is prohibited. All developed recreation sites, campgrounds, picnic areas, and permanent places of habitation that are maintained and administered by the agency or home owner, and have a permanent fire structure are allowed.  Stoves or grills that are fueled solely by liquid petroleum fuels are also allowed.
2.       Discharging, or using any kind of fireworks on unincorporated private lands (always prohibited on state and federal land).
3.       Operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order as determined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practices J335 and J350.
4.       Detonating of explosives, incendiary or chemical devices, pyrotechnics, or exploding targets, or tracer ammunition (always prohibited on federal land).
5.       Cutting, welding or grinding of metal in areas of dry vegetation.
            6.       Smoking except in an enclosed vehicle or building, or a developed recreation site or areas of a minimum of three (3) feet in diameter cleared down to mineral soil.
Lands NOT in Fire Restrictions:
All public, state, and unincorporated privately owned lands east of Interstate 15 in Iron and Beaver Counties are not currently in fire restrictions. 
Please Note: Lands not in fire restrictions are becoming increasingly dry and fire danger is increasing daily.  In areas where fire restrictions are not in place, please ensure your campfire is completely out before you leave and all ignition sources are a safe distance away from vegetation to mitigate unwanted wildfires.  Fireworks are always prohibited on state and federal land.
Fire managers are monitoring conditions daily to re-evaluate the need for further restrictions.
For more information on fires in Utah visit  


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