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Jackson County Fire District No. 3 offering trailer for brush-clearing work

Clearing defensible space around your home in preparation for wildfire season is one thing, but having the resources to haul the brush and clippings off your property is another matter entirely.

If left unattended, such piles can act as fuel caches when flames come surging toward the property in question, said Capt. Tom Kerley of Jackson County Fire District No. 3. Burning the piles currently isn’t allowed either, as fire season in Jackson and Josephine counties kicked off last week. The May 1 start date is among the top five earliest start dates in a 56-year period, the Oregon Department of Forestry said.

With that in mind, Fire District 3 is again offering a 6-by-10 foot trailer that locals within the district can borrow. Those who wish to utilize the service must first complete a home assessment, which will evaluate what’s needed to keep the home safe.

“The idea, generally speaking, is that we’re trying to remove obstacles or find ways to reduce friction when people want to protect their home and make defensible space around their home,” Kerley said. “It’s kind of a simple idea that’s doing good work.”

The program debuted in 2019. Fire District No. 3’s coverage area includes 54,000 county residents who live in the communities of White City, Central Point, Eagle Point, Sams Valley, Gold Hill, Agate Lake and Dodge Bridge.

Structures with adequate defensible space have three zones around them — the zones extending 5, 30 and 100 feet out, according to the Fire District 3 website. Pine needles and combustible mulch must be kept clear year-round within the 5-foot zone. Dead trees must be removed within the 30-foot zone, pine needles removed once a year and all branches, bark chunks, and scrap lumber removed. Additionally, weeds and dead grasses must be cut 2 inches or shorter, while firewood and lumber must be at least 30 feet from the home and covered. Flammable shrubs also must be separated by twice the average shrub height, and highly flammable ornamental vegetation must be removed.

Within the 100-foot zone, all dry, flammable vegetation must be cleared, and all trees limbed 10 feet from the ground. Excessively dense tree cover or continuous vegetation also must be removed

Those who use the trailer can reload it if the first trip doesn’t take care of all the removed vegetation.

“We’re pretty flexible,” Kerley said.

For more information, contact Fire District 3 at 541-826-7100 or visit https://www.jcfd3.com/firewise.

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanPfeil.