Residents, firefighters tout importance of defensible space in mitigating fire danger

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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah -- The Quail Hollow Fire in Cottonwood Heights came close to homes and neighborhoods—areas you might not think a wildfire would spark.

Nearby residents like Hallie Yurick said it’s a reminder that the threat of wildfire is very real.

"It was a scary couple of hours," she said, recounting the time she spent Tuesday wondering if firefighters would gain control of the blaze.

Yurick feared the flames would come toward her neighborhood. Though it didn’t, it got her thinking about her family and her home.

"We back right up to the national forest, and we don't sprinkle our lawn,” she said. “So it's a tinderbox."

Yurick and her husband have taken steps to protect their home from wildfire, but it’s been a couple of years.

"They cut this very far back," she said, pointing to trees and brush in her backyard.

They hired a tree pruning service to create what’s called defensible space.

"We look for at least a 30 foot area around your house where it's kind of just general housekeeping,” explained Unified Fire Authority Captain Dan Brown.

He said it’s important to make sure homeowners don’t have vegetation touching the house. He also said residents should keep their gutters clear, and their plants and lawn healthy and watered.

Captain Brown expects fire season to run late this year.

"Fire season is going to extend a little longer this year than normal, so be very conscientious about your general housekeeping of your yard,” he said.

That’s exactly what Yurick plans to do, to keep her property safe.

“Based on yesterday’s events,” she said, talking about the Quail Hollow fire, “We will be doing it because trees grow really fast.”