The New Mexico Forestry Division is recommending that homeowners prepare their houses for a possible ember storm as spring nears with its strong winds.
Rio Rancho homes in the bosque or on the mesa could be in particular danger if a wildland fire starts in one of those areas.
“Although climate change and increasing drought are making wildfire seasons year-round, we are at most risk when winds are at their worst,” according to a news release from the division. “In New Mexico, this is most common in the spring, when red flag conditions are common.”
Research shows that most homes lost to wildfire are ignited by embers carried by wind. Hot embers can travel up to five miles in strong winds, putting homes and property at risk, according to the release.
To reduce the threat, the Forestry Division advises starting by focusing on areas around the outside of houses and the exteriors of barns, sheds and other structures where hot embers could land and spark a fire.
Areas to concentrate on include;
- Replace wooden shingles with fire resistant materials.
- Clean leaves, pine needles and other such debris from gutters and the roof regularly.
- Remove branches that hang over the house.
Vents and Eaves:
- Close vents and eaves with one-eighth-inch metal screens to keep embers out of the attic.
- Use baffled attic vents.
- Enclose undersides of decks, balconies and the foundation with flame-resistant sheeting.
- Use fire-resistant decking and outdoor furniture.
- Keep deck clear of combustible items, including leaves and pine needles.
- Install double-pane windows and skylights with tempered glass to prevent breakage from radiant heat.
- Seal gaps in windows and doors, including in the garage.
- Build or remodel with fire-resistant materials.
- Remove plants that climb up the house and under eaves.
- Use fire-resistant landscaping.