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Grants available for fire-resistant rebuilding

A contractor installs fire-resistant roofing on a home. File photo
People in Almeda and South Obenchain fire areas eligible

Home and business owners in the Almeda and South Obenchain fire areas can get grants to help them rebuild in more fire-resistant ways.

The grants range from $350 for vents that help block embers and flames, to $2,200 toward a more fire-resistant roof.

Such measures, known as fire hardening, help homes and businesses withstand future fires.

People who own a home, including a manufactured home, or business that was damaged or destroyed by the 2020 wildfires can receive money from the new grant program. Those who have already rebuilt also qualify.

The Almeda fire burned from Ashland through Talent and Phoenix to the southern outskirts of Medford, while the South Obenchain fire burned between Butte Falls and Shady Cove. Together the fires destroyed or damaged 2,900 homes, businesses and outbuildings.

The fire-hardening grant program is a partnership of Jackson County and the Oregon Building Codes Division.

“Besides ensuring your property has a defensible space clear of combustible brush and vegetation, fire hardening can help to better protect your home or business from fire dangers,” said Jackson County Development Services Director and Building Official Ted Zuk.

Other fire-hardening steps include using fire-resistant siding, windows and materials for decks, porches and balconies. Owners of manufactured homes can install fire-resistant skirting around the bottom of their homes.

“These improvements are particularly effective at preventing ignition from embers, which can travel great distances from wildfires,” said Alana Cox, administrator of the Oregon Building Codes Division. “We hope this program will help people affected by the wildfires build back more fire-resistant communities.”

Fire hardening not only helps protect the house or business itself, it makes the community more resistant to the spread of wildfire. By slowing down a fire, fire hardening may create additional time and opportunities for emergency responders to protect life and property threatened by the fire, state officials said.

Grants can also be used to improve the fire resilience of up to two outbuildings within 50 feet of the main house or business.

Once one or more qualifying improvements have been completed, an eligible applicant can receive grant money through the Jackson County Development Services Department.

For more information

For more information and to apply online, see www.oregon.gov/bcd/Pages/firehardening.aspx.

People can also apply in person at the Jackson County Wildfire Resiliency Permit Center, located at 808 W. Main St., Medford. Business hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Information and a paper application can be requested by emailing jcrebuild@jacksoncounty.org or by calling the Wildfire Resiliency Permit Center at 541-774-1034.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.