Don’t Make an Ash of Yourself!

by Marrianne Young
As denizens of a forested community, fire is not a possibility but an eventuality. How we come through it is up to us. That gives us great power over our future, but with great power comes great responsibility (I think Superman’s daddy said that)!

The “Firewise” program is designed to greatly diminish the chance and impact of fire on our community, but in order for it to succeed, we have to be a part of it. More than that, we need to be a conduit for change in our homes, our communities, and our forest. To that end, the Village of Cloudcroft is sponsoring “Firewise” right here. Not only is the Village sponsoring “Firewise”, it is actively doing its part to make the Village a safer place to live. In the next few months, public areas will be undergoing a transformation- not one that will change the look of our beloved village, but one that will improve our safety. Dead and dying trees will be removed from public areas as well as the brush that acts as an accelerant to fire. This removes fuel for fires, but it also has some really great perks! More snow can fall through the tree canopy, allowing more moisture to reach and saturate the ground. More moisture for the ground means healthier trees, which means a healthier forest, which means a safer place to live. The Village is doing its part, now it’s time for us to do ours!

The January section of helpful “Firewise” calendar we published last month simply reminds us that ashes remain able to burn long after they appear to be out. Don’t put ashes into any container unless it’s metal; don’t put ashes into a dumpster unless they are over a week old. Ash is a fabulous insulator and keeps live coals live and smoldering for a very long time- live enough to start a home fire or a forest fire. And if you’d like a few free things that you can do with just a little work to protect your home, how about these ideas:
1) Move your firewood pile away from your home or under your deck
2) Clear the view of your house number so it can be seen from the street (or put one up!)
3) Remove trees from along your driveway (if you have one) so it’s 12 feet wide
4) Trim all branches that overhang your house
5) Clean your roof and gutters of leaves and pine needles

These are just a few free things each of us can do to improve our fire defensibility. If each of us does one activity a month to make our homes more “Firewise”, with each passing month our community is stronger and safer. So be wise and don’t make an ash of yourself!

To learn more about Firewise visit www.firewise.org/