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Steamboat Magazine

The Three Zones of Wildfire Mitigation

05/08/2024 02:54PM ● By Elainna Hemming
Steamboat Springs, CO - Although heavy snow years can make it hard to imagine raging fires sweeping across trees, wildfires are a serious threat in Colorado. Spring is the perfect time for home renovations and improvements in order to properly mitigate the chances of your house getting swallowed by flames. 

According to the Colorado Forest Service, there are three zones around your property, each with different risk levels and ways to reduce wildfire risk:

1) The first zone exists 0-5 feet from the house and has the highest risk, needing the most amount of prevention measures. Here, the goal is to ensure that flames cannot come into contact directly with the structure of your house. Non-flammable surface materials such as rock, gravel and cement are recommended. It is also advised to be diligent about cleaning your front lawn; regularly remove any branches encroaching upon the 0-5 foot range and rake away pine needles, dead leaves and other flammable debris. 

2) The second zone, ranging from 5-30 feet from the house, is intended to slow down an approaching fire. Trees in the yard should be spread out so there is at least 10 feet between the branches. Homeowners should be wary of large piles of logs, branches or mulch.

3) Finally, 30-100 feet from the house is considered the third zone. The third zone, while retaining a mitigation goal of containing the fire to the ground level, is also an opportunity to improve overall forest health. Slash treatment is encouraged in this zone, so piling and burning excess organic debris is completely safe for the forest and your home. Grass can be kept long in this zone, but hazards and general spacing should still be taken into consideration.