Did you know that embers and small flames are the main source of ignition for most homes destroyed by wildfires? To increase your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire, create defensible space on your property. 

According to the experts at Cal Fire, defensible space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire, and it helps protect your home from catching fire—it also provides firefighters a safe area to work in to defend your home. Firefighters always do their best to reduce fire damage, but ultimately, it is your responsibility to protect your property.

Defensible space is broken into three home ignition zones. Zone 0 extends 5 feet from the furthest attached exterior point of the home, like a deck, Zone 1 extends 5 to 30 feet from the furthest exterior point of the home and Zone 2 extends 30 to 100 feet from the furthest exterior point of the home or to the edge of your property line, whichever is furthest. Here are some steps you can take to create defensible space in each zone:

Zone 0 (0 to 5 feet)

  • Use hardscape like gravel, pavers, concrete and other noncombustible mulch materials.
  • Remove all dead and dying vegetation and debris (leaves, needles, cones, bark, etc.) from roofs, gutters, decks, porches and stairways.
  • Remove all branches within 10 feet of any chimney or stovepipe outlet.
  • Limit combustible items (outdoor furniture, planters, etc.) on top of decks.
  • Replace combustible fencing, gates and arbors attached to the home with noncombustible alternatives.
  • Consider relocating garbage and recycling containers outside this zone.
  • Consider relocating boats, RVs, vehicles and other combustible items outside this zone.

Zone 1 (5 to 30 feet)

  • Remove all dead vegetation.
  • Remove dead or dry leaves and pine needles from your yard.
  • Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees.
  • Relocate wood piles to Zone 2.
  • Remove or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows.
  • Create a separation between trees, shrubs and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, wood piles, swing sets, etc.

Zone 2 (30 to 100 feet)

  • Cut or mow annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.
  • Create horizontal space between shrubs and trees.
  • Create vertical space between grass, shrubs and trees.
  • Remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones and small branches.
  • All exposed wood piles must have a minimum of 10 feet of clearance, down to bare soil, in all directions.

For more information on defensible space and wildfire preparedness, visit ReadyforWildfire.org.

At Xcel Energy, we’re working hard every day to improve safety and reduce wildfire threats across our service area. As climate conditions have changed throughout the west, the traditional idea of a fire “season” has evolved into a year-long battle against rapidly changing and extreme weather conditions that can generate larger, more intense and faster moving wildfires. As part of our commitment to safety, our comprehensive Wildfire Mitigation Program was designed to minimize the risk of electrical infrastructure-caused wildfires to help protect lives, homes and property in Colorado. In doing so, we are helping to create a sustainable future for Coloradans who rely on us to power their lives every day.  Learn more about these efforts at XcelEnergyWildfireMitigation.com.