Ed Brown and his wife Val Hall live west of Fort Collins, Colorado on the edge of Roosevelt National Forest. The couple has used Firewise principles ever since constructing their home in 1997. Firewise is a national program developed by the NFPA that educates homeowners about wildfire risk and advocates principles designed to reduce that risk, including: the creation of defensible space around the home and its surrounding landscape (known as the “Home Ignition Zone”), the use of fire resistant building materials, the maintenance of fire resistant landscaping, and the creation of an evacuation plan.
Ed Brown and Val Hall took these principles to heart. According to Val “we have been Firewise for years, ever since building next to Roosevelt National Forest. We have a metal roof, tree branches trimmed up to 20’ off the ground and an area around the house that has been grazed by goats.”
These principles were put to the test on April 2, 2011 when the Crystal Mountain Wildfire burned towards their home. That night, 80 mph gusts blew the fire into their community prompting the couple and their neighbors to evacuate. The following day they returned to find their home standing in an un-charred patch of land. Unfortunately, many of the neighboring homes were destroyed in the blaze. Val said that following Firewise principles “saved our home, along with a bit of luck.”
Story sources: Firewise Communities “The How-To Newsletter,” Summer 2011
Photo credit: Val Hall
Photo caption: Firewise principles successfully saved this home during a 2011 wildfire.