It’s not all about trees when wildland fire season arrives…

Summer has become scary for most of us in the West, with wildland fire surrounding us for much of the summer season—and beyond. Currently, over one million acres are burning nationwide, and upwards of 26,000 firefighters are working to contain those blazes. Sand Creek Tree Service is proud to be among them, devoting time, personnel and equipment to the fire-suppression cause.

Our water truck on hand for a blaze in Nevada this year

In addition to our arborist work in and around Sandpoint, we are on-call with the Forest Service during wildland fire season and can be summoned anywhere in the nation. This year, our equipment is spending a lot of time in Nevada. We operate a water truck that assists in wildland fire suppression. This work can wreak havoc with our tree-care schedule, but it makes us so grateful to return to the cool shade of our area’s treescapes when time allows.

If you live outside of Sandpoint city limits, you’re likely surrounded by trees. Most of us live here because we love the forest; we enjoy looking out our window onto expanses of cedar, hemlock, pine and fir. North Idaho offers this in spades. However, come fire season, forests become fuel, and it’s scary living inside the tinderbox. So, beyond making a stump farm of one’s acreage, what’s a forest-bound resident to do?

fire season

A healthy forest makes for a healthy burn. A healthy burn will likely leave your home safe.

Fuels reduction is the key. Trees must be thinned, concentrating on increasing space between canopies. Down below, ladder fuels (vegetation that allows a wildland fire to climb from the forest floor to the canopy) must be reduced, including branches, brush and young trees. Surface fuels (dead and downed timber and limbs) should be removed as well as they can harbor and build heat during a fire. As an additional safety measure, residents can clear a swath of trees through the forest 5 to 15 feet wide that acts as a fuels break. This gives firefighters an advantage when trying to save homes. Basically, the idea is to manage fuels so that when a wildland fire does come, it acts as a healthy ground fire that cleans up the forest while sparing large trees and structures.

A fire in Nevada comes dangerously close to town.

At Sand Creek Tree Service, we’re not just arborists; we’re also wildland firefighters. We know how to keep forests healthy and safe, and we’d rather do that than battle flames at anyone’s doorstep.

The lesson we’ve learned on fires is to make sure your home is defensible. And not just your home, but access to your home as well. If you have a long driveway with thick trees, reduce fuels on each side of the road 5 to 20 feet back depending on the fuel types. That means thinning some trees, removing saplings, and limbing up larger trees. Another thing to consider is whether there is enough room to get a fire engine down your driveway and turned around.

Of course, we can’t predict wildland fires, but it never hurts to be prepared. Even if the landscape doesn’t ignite this year, it will at some point. Such is the nature of a densely forested environment.

Sand Creek Tree Service can help with all fuels reduction work. We know what a defensible home looks like; and sadly, we’re familiar with properties that don’t stand a chance. Call us today for an assessment of your property.
Also, to stay apprised of fire potential predictions for our region, visit the
National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook page for updates through the summer.