How to help: Northern California wildfire relief

Defensible space helps protect homes in fires, officials say

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SANDY, Utah -- A wet May across the state of Utah has led to weeds and grasses growing waist high in urban areas, creating an increased need to ensure defensible space exists around homes in case of a fire.

"It's really important to provide a little bit of an area that firefighters can make access and get between the fire and your homes to protect the homes," said Battalion Chief Eric Larson from the Sandy Fire Department after a fire in Sandy off of Cobalt Circle.

Monday's blaze took off in the tall grass in a common area behind seven homes. Crews stopped the flames 30 feet from the nearest house, but not everyone had prepped their homes with defensible space.

"Some had it, some did not," Larson said.

"Unfortunately, the folks that have done a good job may be the victim of the lack of action by one of their neighbors," said Jason Curry, a fire information officer from the Division of Forestry and State Lands.

"We haven't really talked about it between neighbors," said Starla Tucker about defensible space.

Tucker lives in one of the seven homes threatened by the fire in Sandy.  But she’s always noticed the tall grass growing in the common area behind her house.

"A lot of times it just grows and is thick -- the thick dry grass that has worried me," Tucker said.

Firefighters say clearing the land around a house is not limited to homes in the forest.  Anyone with brush up against their house can create challenge for crews trying to stop a fire.

For tips on how to create defensible space around a home and for information on fire resistant plants, visit http://www.readyforwildfire.org/defensible_space/