Texoma is no stranger to wildfires; how to help prevent them

Lawton_Oklahoma is no stranger to wildfires and disasters.  And, a lot of Texoma home owners may be sympathizing with those from Southern California because a year and a half ago, most of Oklahoma was an inferno.  Many of us don't want that to happen again.  So, how can we protect our homes from wildfires?

There are some simple things every homeowner can do to avoid disaster.  Keeping grass and weeds down around your home will do so much to help firefighters and avoid having any high oil trees around your property.  Tend to your weeds - they absolutely must go to avoid starting a potential wildfire.

"Create a 10 to 20 foot area around your house were the grass is cut low.  The shrubbery, as your plants, die pull them out away from your house in case there is a wildfire," says Fire Chief Bart Hadley.  "Getting rid of shrubbery or things that will dry out in the winter that contain a lot of oil, like pine trees and those kind of things.  Those go up very fast and burn very hot," he says.

Both Hadley and Clint Wagstaff from County Emergency Management say don't be fooled by all the rain we've had this year.  "What that does is create a lot of extra growth," says Hadley.  "And, of course winter time is dryer to start with...and, it could create a problem much like last year - only worse because we have more vegetation and fuel for those fires."

They say make sure you plan ahead in general, though.  Make copies of your important records and store them somewhere fireproof.  Remember, if you don't plan, you are actually planning to fail.

Hadley says now is the time to start doing things around your home to make your property fire safe.  Here are some great tips:

  • Install a sprinkler system if you can afford it
  • If you plan to burn firewood during the colder months, keep it stored at least 50 feet away from your home
  • Put a "green buffer" - a tract of healthy greenery - around your home to help protect your property
  • If you plan on conducting a "controlled burn" watch the wind.  If it's up, you may be held liable if it blows the wrong way and causes property damage to someone else's home
  • Don't use candles outside - especially during Halloween.  Some children's costumes are long and flowing.  They could easily catch fire and drag it with them to unkempt weeds
  • Build your home in the right area.  Find out what areas are dangerous before you buy land
  • Design your home for self protection with fireproof materials.  For example, a wood shingled roof might not be a great idea.
  • Use flame retardant paints and gels inside and outside your home to help prevent fires.

Call your local fire department if you have any questions or would like advice on how to prevent wildfires or fire safe your home.