After recent brush fires, ORFD asks residents to be ‘firewise’

Darryl Kerley

Darryl Kerley

The Oak Ridge Fire Department has responded to an outbreak of brush fires during the past few weeks, and on Thursday, officials asked residents to take precautions to prepare for a potential event in their area.

“Many people associate brush and wildland fires with California and ‘out West’ but that isn’t true,” ORFD Fire Chief Darryl Kerley said. “With the numerous greenbelts, natural areas, and power line clearings here in Oak Ridge, we have several areas that are prone (to) brush fires.”

Most of the recent fires have involved dried kudzu, which burns very rapidly, especially during this time of year when everything is still dry and the daytime humidity isn’t very low, a press release said. Couple the amount of kudzu, fallen pine trees, dead leaves, and undergrowth with the current weather patterns, along with the topography of most of Oak Ridge, and there is a potential for small fires to become out of control very quickly.

Fire department officials are urging people to add a few of the items below to their spring yard detail and landscaping plans:

  • Develop a defendable space around your home that is at least 30 feet from your home. Creating this spaces involves removing dead leaves, pine needles, and tree branches, and pruning shrubs and trees back.
  • Make your landscaping FireWise. Use rock instead of mulch up against your home. Plants such as junipers, holly, paupon, cedar, and pine should not be planted within the 30-foot defendable space.
  • Clean fences, walls, and gutters that might have debris such as leaves and pine needles collected up against them or in them.
  • Move things such as firewood and grills away from you home and outside of the 30 feet of defendable space.
Josh Waldo

Josh Waldo

The Oak Ridge Fire Department will be happy to assist residents in conducting an assessment of their property as part of their FireWise program. Citizens may contact the Fire Department office at (865) 425-3520 to schedule a time for a firefighter to come out and help them with the assessment. More detailed information about FireWise, developing defendable spaces, and how to reduce your wildfire risk can be found at www.burnsafetn.org.

For more information, call ORFD Deputy Fire Chief Josh Waldo at (865) 865-425-3525.

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