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July 2024

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Tips To Minimize Your Wildfire Risk

Wildfire season is upon us here in New Mexico. In fact, our wildfire season typically begins in the spring, after snowmelt, and then our dependable winds pick up. As of the time we went to press,, the fire danger rating for the Questa area was rated “High,” which means fine, dead fuels ignite readily, and fires start easily.

In light of the current wildfires affecting our friends in southern New Mexico, Questa del Rio News wants to remind our readers of the importance of being “fire-wise” and creating defensible space around your home.

What does it mean to create a defensible space? A defensible space is the area that provides a buffer between your home or structure and the surrounding area. Adequate defensible space acts like a barrier to slow or halt the progress of a wildfire.

A wildfire in New Mexico can happen any time of the year, so how can you protect your home? Here are some tips from New Mexico Firewise to help prepare you this season:

  • Remove all trees and large shrubs within 30 feet of the home.
  • To a distance of 100 feet (200 feet on steep lots), remove some trees and shrubs to create 10 feet of space between adjoining tree’s outermost branches. Prune lower branches of remaining trees up to 10 feet off the ground.
  • Remove ladder fuels, young trees, and shrubs planted close to larger trees that could carry a surface fire into the tops of large trees.
  • Minimize flammable debris. Keep roofs and rain gutters free of pine needles, leaves, and other flammable material.
  • Keep firewood and other flammable debris a minimum of 50 feet from the house, preferably on the uphill side.
  • Mow grasses to a height of less than 6 inches within 50 feet of the home.
  • Use fire-resistant construction and landscaping. Wood shake shingle roofs are highly flammable. Convert roof to Class A fire-resistant materials such as fiberglass-asphalt, metal, and tile.
  • Construct decks and siding with non-combustible materials.
  • Screen openings under decks and attic and foundation vents.
  • Check with local nurseries to learn about fire-resistant landscaping.
  • Call your local forestry office for more information.

When a wildfire occurs, your home is vulnerable to three potential types of ignition. 1) ember attacks (burning pieces of ember carried through the wind that can cause spot fires and ignite homes, 2) surface fire (small fires burning through grass and other surface fuels which can reach houses if there’s no interruption in fuels), and 3) crown fire (large fires burning in the treetops and canopies which can radiate heat and light wood walls up to 100 feet away). Visit the New Mexico Firewise website or talk to your local forestry professional to learn more about wildfire risk reduction that can make your home safer if threatened by wildfire.

Lora Arciniega obtained her Bachelor of Science in forestry from northern Arizona University in 2007. She went on to work for the U.S. Forest Service for a number of years as a Forester/Silviculturist.


  • Lora Arcienega

    Experience working with the USDA Forest Service and extensive knowledge of the northern region, while maintaining and fostering strong community relationships remain a big priority.

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