Wildfire Preparedness

A map of different zones on appropriate techniques for fuel reduction in creating a defensible space for the home.
A map illustrating the different zones in creating a defensible space around your home.


Creating a Defensible Space Using the Zone Concept

Using the Zone Concept
The primary goal for Firewise landscaping is fuel reduction — limiting the amount of flammable vegetation and materials surrounding the home and increasing the moisture content of remaining vegetation. The home itself and everything around it up to 100 – 200 feet is known as the ‘home ignition zone.’ In areas across the country where the risk of wildfire is high, the home ignition zone extends up to 200 feet beyond the actual home structure. Within this 200 foot area, there are three zones:

Zone 1 encircles the structure and all its attachments (wooden decks, fences, and boardwalks) for at least 30 feet on all sides. Note: the 30-foot number comes from the very minimum distance, on flat ground, that a wood wall can be separated from the radiant heat of large flames without igniting. In this area:

  • Plants should be carefully spaced, low-growing and free of resins, oils and waxes that burn easily.
  • Mow the lawn regularly. Prune trees up six to ten feet from the ground.
  • Space conifer trees 30 feet between crowns. Trim back trees that overhang the house.
  • Create a ‘fire-free’ area within five feet of the home, using non-flammable landscaping materials and/or high-moisture-content annuals and perennials.
  • Remove dead vegetation from under deck and within 10 feet of house.
  • Consider fire-resistant material for patio furniture, swing sets, etc.
  • Remove firewood stacks and propane tanks; they should not be located in this zone.
  • Water plants, trees and mulch regularly.
  • Consider xeriscaping if you are affected by water-use restrictions.

Zone 2 is 30 to 100 feet from the home, and plants in this zone should be low-growing, well irrigated and less flammable. In this area:

  • Leave 30 feet between clusters of two to three trees, or 20 feet between individual trees.
  • Encourage a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees.
  • Create ‘fuel breaks’, like driveways, gravel walkways and lawns.
  • Prune trees up six to ten feet from the ground.

Zone 3 is 100 to 200 feet from the home and this area should be thinned, although less space is required than in Zone 2. NOTE: Because of other factors such as topography, the recommended distances to mitigate for radiant heat exposure actually extend between 100 to 200 feet from the home – on a site-specific basis. In this area:

  • Remove smaller conifers that are growing between taller trees. Remove heavy accumulation of woody debris.
  • Reduce the density of tall trees so canopies are not touching.
** Info and text from firewise.org
A graphic of wildfire moving toward a home that has prepared a defensible space.


FREE: Home Fire Risk Assessments

Ask for help to determine what is most important. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers free Home Risk Assessments to evaluate whether your home has a chance of surviving a wildfire. The inspection will provide suggestions about how to improve your safety by removing fuel. Call the DNR Northeast Region office at 509-684-7474 to schedule an appointment. If your home is within 200 feet of National Park Service land, you can also contact the Lake Roosevelt Fire Management Program for assistance.

Grants for Fuel Reduction Around Homes

Apply for funding to help pay for the cost. Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has several grants to assist landowners with reducing the risk of wildfire around homes and improving forest health. These grants can be used for thinning, pruning and clean up of slash. Proper vegetation management will protect your property from wildfire and also increase the health of your trees and shrubs. Better health will also help your forest fight off bark beetle and disease attacks. If you have property in Eastern Washington you may qualify for these grants. Funding for these grants is provided by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. For more information, call the DNR at (509) 684-7474.

Debris Burning Guidelines

Be sure it is a burn day before burning your piles.
1) Call 1-800-323-BURN to make sure it is a burn day
2) To see if you need a permit, call (509) 685-6900.
3) Put a fire break around the debris pile.
4) Keep water and equipment nearby.
5) Do not leave your debris pile unattended.
6) Check the fire to make sure it is completely out.

Campfire Safety

Be sure campfires are allowed before you make one. Use an established fire ring. Keep water and a shovel nearby to extinguish the fire. Keep all burning materials inside the fire ring. Keep all unused firewood at least 10 feet away from the fire ring. Never leave a fire unattended. Be sure your campfire is dead out before leaving -- use water, stir, and make sure all coals are cold.

Last updated: April 12, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area
1008 Crest Drive

Coulee Dam, WA 99116



Contact Us