Firewise Landscaping

In an urban environment, homes are often close together and share defensible spaces with neighboring structures. A combination of Firewise construction and landscaping can help homes withstand windblown embers, minimize the likelihood of flames or surface fire touching the home or any attachments, and reduce the chance of fire spreading. The primary goal for Firewise landscaping is reducing fuel by limiting the flammable vegetation and materials surrounding the home and increasing the moisture content of remaining vegetation. The ‘home ignition zone’ is split up into three different areas. Source 1, 2, 3

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Home Ignition Zones

Immediate Zone
Intermediate Zone
Extended Zone

Post-Fire Recovery Webinar from the Boulder County Extension of Colorado State University

CSU Post Fire Recovery of the Home Landscape Questions and Answers

Guidelines For Safe Gardening from Boulder County Public Health

Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) recommends residents whose properties have been affected by the Marshall fire take extra steps to stay healthy when gardening this spring and has created a flowchart to help assess potential risk. Smoke, ash and soot from urban fires, like the Marshall fire, that burned structures, vehicles, everyday household products, plastic, rubber and automotive components can produce unhealthy particles and harmful contaminants, such as heavy metals, which can settle in soil and create unsafe conditions for gardens. “The intense heat from urban fires reduces the number of micro-organisms in soil and negatively affects organic matter and nutrients. In addition, ash can make soils more alkaline over time,” said Joe Malinowski, Environmental Health Division Manager. “This damage causes temporary changes in your soil’s ability to flourish in your garden and to grow edible fruits and vegetables that are safe to eat. Getting your soil tested before gardening is the best way to determine its condition.” If there is ash on your property as the result of a burning structure, or if you have a thick layer of ash because you were close to the fire, there may be hazardous chemicals that require special handling. In this circumstance, BCPH recommends working with an environmental restoration service to remediate the property safely. Removing a significant amount of soil may require water misting to suppress dust and contaminated soil must be disposed of at an approved site. If you have soil or lawn clippings that may be contaminated with ash in your garden or lawn, BCPH recommends the following steps to mitigate any potential health hazards safely:

  • Wear an N95 mask and gloves when moving or disturbing soil that may contain ash or soot. Anyone with respiratory illnesses is advised to talk with their healthcare provider about what they can do to stay safe and whether they should wear an N95 mask.
  • Use a shovel or hoe to scrape and collect surface soil.
  • Try to minimize the amount of soil and dirt that is dispersed in the air.
  • Dispose of soil and lawn clippings via your regular trash disposal.
  • Take off your shoes before going inside and immediately remove and wash clothes in a washing machine.
  • Wash your body thoroughly.

More Information

Common questions about air, water and soil quality, visit: boco.org/MarshallFireAirWater

Marshall fire, visit: boco.org/marshallfire

For questions, email: MarshallFireHealthInfo@bouldercounty.org