2017-10-18 / News

Outdoor fires can be avoided with simple steps

by Kate Evans

The risk of wildfires has been high recently due to the extremely dry conditions until beneficial rains came to the area on Sunday and Monday.

Residents are advised to follow these home safety tips and outdoor fire prevention measures to protect their homes and property from outdoor fires year-round.

State and local fire officials, and Ready.gov recommend that homeowners maintain an area of 30 feet around their home that is free of anything burnable — dry leaves, wood piles, newspaper, trash, debris, brush and other landscaping that can burn. Mow the lawn regularly.

Trim branches that overhang the home, porch and deck and prune branches of large trees up to six to 10 feet to reduce possible fire spread.

Clean roof gutters of dead leaves and debris regularly.

Repair or replace loose or missing roof shingles, damaged window screens and broken windows to decrease ember penetration.

Decks and porches

Don’t store items under porches and decks. Remove dead leaves and debris from underneath porches and decks.

Screen in or mesh the area under decks and porches to prevent debris and combustible material from accumulating there.

Choose fire-resistant porch and deck furniture. Keep your porch free of clutter.

Don’t have a charcoal, gas or propane grill near anything on a porch that could easily ignite. Only use grills outdoors because of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Move flammable materials like leaves, pine needles, flammable plants and firewood piles away from exterior home walls.

Reduce combustible materials by pruning vegetation, thinning underbrush and creating fire fuel breaks with gravel walkways, driveways and lawns in the area that’s 30 to 100 feet from your home.

Controlled outdoor burns

Outdoor burning can only take place from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. during forest fire season, which began October 1 and runs through December 31. It also runs March 1 through May 31. Outdoor burn bans may be declared if dry conditions that increase the threat of wildfires persist.

Never burn when it’s dry and windy.

Burn only vegetation, brush and yard debris. Don’t burn paper, trash or any manmade materials.

A safety strip with a minimum distance of 10 feet must surround the materials being burned and be cleared down to the soil.

Fires must be attended at all times with adequate water, equipment and people to put out the fire if it escapes. The fire should be completely extinguished before leaving it.

Stay 200 feet from any dwelling or any woodland if doing a controlled burn. Choose a spot that’s away from overhead wires and phone lines where the fire won’t spread into the woods or brushy areas.

Call Morgan County 911 Dispatch at 304-258-0305 to tell them the location of your outdoor burn before you begin burning.

Call 911 immediately if the fire escapes the burn area.

Responder access

Clearly post road and house number signs so responders can find your home in case of fire and emergencies.

Driveways should be a minimum of 12 feet wide with a 15 foot vertical clearance to allow emergency vehicle access.

Evacuation plan

Have a family fire evacuation and disaster plan for yourself, family members, pets and livestock.

Practice your home fire drill once or twice a year with everyone in the family. Hold one fire drill during the day and one at night.

Have two ways out of every room in case of fire and a pre-designated meeting spot outside of the home.

Close the doors behind you as you leave, which may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.

Never go back inside a burning building for any reason.

General tips

Have working smoke detectors on every floor, in sleeping areas and in hallways and entranceways. Smoke detectors save lives.

Change your fire alarm batteries twice a year at time change. Check them once a month.

Have a carbon monoxide detector in your home if you’re burning wood, oil or coal.

Keep fire extinguishers handy in your home and know how to use them.

Return to top