The Importance of Tree Maintenance for Fire Mitigation

Serving Families Throughout Portland & the Pacific Northwest

Arborists in Portland, OR Share Advice On Tree Care and Fire Mitigation

As they nervously watch wildfires creep closer, homeowners on the West Coast worry about keeping their family, homes, and property safe. Because of drought, this time of year is the most dangerous for wildfire; a single careless act can spark a raging inferno that consumes everything in its path.

Homeowners aren’t entirely helpless, however. There is a series of actions they can take to prevent a fire from reaching their homes. This process of fire damage prevention is known as fire mitigation. An important part of fire mitigation is routine tree maintenance.

How Fire Mitigation Prevents the Spread of Wildfires

Fire needs three things to burn: oxygen, fuel, and a spark (or source of ignition). When a fire is deprived of any of these, it cannot burn. Fire mitigation basically creates an area where fuel is limited. As the fire approaches that area, it will not find anything to consume, and will move on to another path or will die out.

It’s not realistic to hope to extinguish a fully involved wildfire. Wildfire spreads unbelievably quick, racing through the dry underbrush and jumping from tree to tree. Trees play a major role in West Coast wildfires, so keeping up with their maintenance is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of fire.

Important Tree Care Practices

Trees are the perfect fuel for wildfires: they often grow very close together, they are tall and wide and apt to catch sparks, and in the late summer and fall they are especially dry. This is why tree care is one of the main points of every fire mitigation plan.

The following tree maintenance practices are essential to fire mitigation:

  • Clear the land: Completely clear the land of trees at least 10 feet around every structure. If absolutely necessary, leave only small, scattered trees.
  • Thin your trees: For the next 70 feet around each structure, trees should be thinned. This is the selective removal of live branches, which makes the crown of the trees less dense. Thinning inhibits the spread of fire.
  • Dead branch removal: Make note of tree branches that are no longer green and blooming. Dead branch removal eliminates the driest, most dangerous part of the tree.
  • Tree pruning: Tree trimming is important for many factors. Not only will it prevent trees from crowding one another, but also it can create healthy growth. Any branches that are touching other trees should be trimmed back, and any limbs hanging over a structure should be removed.
  • Rake: Always ensure trees and the home are free of dead leaves, pine needles, and underbrush. Routine raking lowers the risk of wildfire spread.

Why You Should Work with a Professional

Trimming and felling trees can be dangerous. When homeowners work with power tools and ladders, there is an increased risk of injury. People who are inexperienced with trees may actually end up harming their trees by over-pruning. Furthermore, fire mitigation tactics may not be as effective when they are done by someone with little knowledge of the role trees play in fire spread.

Professional arborists have the experience, knowledge, and equipment to safely and effectively maintain your trees. When fire mitigation can mean the difference between life and death, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

About General Tree Service

General Tree Service has been Portland, OR’s choice for tree services for almost 100 years. They are the experts in tree pruning services, tree removal, root health care, and more. The ISA Certified Arborists at General Tree Service offer the highest quality tree, shrub, and plant health care in the area.

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