Homeowners in rural Lane County prepare for fire season

"It has been a huge relief, because there's a lot of these piles that would have been a real ignition problem," said Cheryl Mueller.

Posted: May 6, 2018 1:06 PM
Updated: May 6, 2018 1:14 PM

NEAR COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. -- Saturday was national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day.

That morning, a group of homeowners in Lane County got together to make their neighborhood more resilient to fires.

"It has been a huge relief, because there's a lot of these piles that would have been a real ignition problem," said Cheryl Mueller, member of the Homeowners Association in Moliter Ranch (located just east of Cottage Grove).

Mueller and her neighbors are chipping their worries away one tree branch at a time. They're working with the Oregon Department of Forestry and South Lane Fire & Rescue to make sure they, and their homes, are ready this fire season.

"They're a real example here in Lane County, because they're taking  action to protect their most valuable asset, which is their homes," said Marcus Kauffman, a Spokesperson for ODF.

Kauffman said wildfires are a very real threat for this area.

"In this part of Lane County, we've had 20 fires in the last 20 years. Last year alone, 7,000 people were evacuated from wildfires," said Kauffman. 

Mueller said her community has been struggling to keep up with clearing dead trees and brush, since the ice storm more than two years ago. 

Saturday was a group effort. Residents and ODF crews cleared dead branches and brush from the roads and from near houses, and put them into ODF's wood chipper, creating mulch that home owners can re-use in their yards.

Thanks to the help of ODF and its wood chipper, Mueller said they didn't have to resort to burning that wood: "None of us like to do burn piles."

All their efforts go towards making their neighborhood Firewise. It's a national program that teaches homeowners how to create a defensible space around their houses, to give firefighters a better chance at suppressing a wildfire and at saving their homes.

It also gives the homeowners peace of mind this summer.

For a list of Firewise safety tips, click here. 

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