Mayor Ernie Bunch and District Chief John Kraetz have for years preached, implored and educated the citizens of Cave Creek on creating a defensible space around their properties to somewhat of a deaf ear. After the devastation of the Ocotillo Fire we are compelled to once again plead our case. We can’t emphasize how important to both the individual property owner and to the town as a whole, the need to clear the insidious weeds which pose such a tremendous threat for fire propagation. As a lot of you probably witnessed, the Ocotillo Fire which was fed by these weeds and grasses raced through the desert faster than fire department units could be placed at the threatened homes. The town and it’s citizens were extremely lucky there wasn’t a large loss of life to both humans and livestock. Due to the hard work of all the emergency personnel, we were also lucky more homes didn’t burn down.
It is vitally important to start now (even though it is way late in the game) on the process of clearing your yards. Start with a 30 foot space around your homes, out buildings, barns, etc. Remove all the small weeds, trim overhanging branches from trees, and remove piles of wood or flammable debris. If you have a flat roof, check to make sure there isn’t a build up of leaves and debris. Just one spark on the roof can cause a house to be lost. Trim shrubs to a height of no more than 2 feet and provide clear space around each plant of at least 4 feet.
In the space 30-100 feet from the buildings, continue to remove the small grasses and shrubs. Trim limbs a minimum 6’ from the ground. Stack firewood at least 30’ from structures. Create islands of shrubs, thinning them enough to walk between them.
By creating these spaces, your home will at least have a chance to survive a wildfire. The space also helps the fire department as they are working to keep the flames away. The only way the town will avoid another Ocotillo Fire is by citizens doing their part. It not only gives your property a chance of not being consumed by fire, but also helps the town as a whole.
Don’t think that another devastating fire won’t occur. The risk is the same as it was a couple of weeks ago. Be a responsible citizen. Put on a pair of gloves, wear a hat, hydrate, and splash on the sunscreen, then get to work. Spend the next couple of weekends helping yourself and the community at large. We will all be safer as a result.
Mayor Ernie Bunch
District Chief John Kraetz