Prepare for Wildfire

Click on the geographic area of Ashland where you live to find out if you are in the Wildfire Hazard Zone. The maps have street names and addresses (people who live uphill from the City limits are not mapped but still in the fire zone). If you're already sure you're "in the zone", then skip this step and read below.

Wildfire Hazard Map # 1 NW Ashland: Fox St. to Upper Terrace St.

Remember that a fire can happen in any neighborhood in Ashland, not just in the Wildfire Hazard Zone.
Wildland Urban Interface Zone (WUI): What is it and where is it?
Simply, the WUI is where homes and wildlands mix.  Wildlands can be forests, brush, or grass.  Homes can be a cabin in the woods or residential neighborhoods.  The highest losses of lives and homes occur when wildland fires burn into dense neighborhoods like past fires in Oakland (1991), San Diego county (2003), and South Lake Tahoe (2007). Ashland is most similar to these communities in vegatation types, home density, and weather.  However, it is what you do now to protect yourself that determines what the aftermath of a fire in Ashland will look like. 
What Role do Homeowners Play?  
Research and inspections of past fires show the greatest opportunity to save homes from wildfires lies with the homeowners before a fire starts.
Once a fire is going, firefighters have limited time and resources to both put out the fire and protect homes.  The best insurance is to keep fire from igniting your home by assessing the hazards within 100 feet of your house, including the home itself, and then taking action to protect your home and property. If you help us before the fire, we can better help you during the fire. Ashland Fire and Rescue provides free home consultations on wildfire safety.


Step 1: Assess Your Home's Ignitability

During a wildfire, airborne embers are a major cause of home ignitions. It is extremely important that these embers do not find a place to land where they can ignite your home. The following steps can greatly reduce the risk of ignition:
  • Replace shake roofs with class B or Class A roofing material.
  • Remove all combustible leaves and needles from rooftops and gutters.
  • Clear a "fuel free" zone within 5 feet of any structure, including decks. Clear all leaves and bark mulch and trim vegetation back, especially where siding comes down to ground level. Compost, dirt, and gravel are acceptable within a few feet of the home as ground cover.
  • Check all exterior vents along the eves, walls, and foundation to make sure the screening is intact.
  • Move anything that can burn at least 30 feet from the house, uphill if possible. This includes lumber and firewood.
  • Keep propane tanks at least 30 feet from a structure and clear 10 feet or more around it.
  • Close off spaces under decks and exterior vents with 1/8 inch metal screening to prevent embers from entering. Keep spaces under deck free of all combustible materials i.e lumber, leaves, and firewood. 
  • Clearly post your address on your home and at all driveway junctions. Numbers should be at least 4 inches tall and reflective for easy view in smoke or dark.
Step 2: Create Defensible Space: Keep Big Flames Away
0-30 feet from structures:
  • Grass and weeds should be cut to the ground to prevent fire from spreading.  Ashland Municipal Code requires this be done by June 15th each year.
  • Trim vegetation away from windows. Burning vegetation close to a window can break the glass, allowing fire to enter.
  • Thin trees and shrubs to prevent interlocking canopies. Space trees at least 10 feet apart at branch tips, more if on a slope. Select only "Fire-safe" landscape plants (see link below). Conifers are more flammable than deciduous trees.
  • Thin "ladder fuels" from under trees.  Lowest limbs should clear vegetation underneath the tree by 3 times the height of the undergrowth.
  • Remove lower branches on trees and shrubs to prevent fire on the ground from moving up into the crowns. A good rule of thumb is prune to 8 feet on larger trees or 1/3 of the tree height on small trees.
  • Trim trees so foliage is no closer than 10 feet from the outlet of any chimney, roof line, eves, and walls.
  • Remove all cut vegetation, dead material, and debris from property.  This includes leaves and pine needles. 
  • Use flower beds, walkways, rock walls, and lawn to break up the continuity of vegetation in this zone.

The above requirements also apply to landscaping plants. Watch out for highly flammable landscaping like Junipers, Cypress, and Arborvitae close to your home. Ashland Fire recommends you remove these species within 30 feet of your home. Go to Ashland Fire-Safe Plants for a guide to fire-safe landscape plants, or call for a brochure.

30-100 feet from structures:
  • Thin understory brush, especially under the canopy of any trees. If there are no trees, thin around the largest species of brush and prune away lower limbs and dead wood. 
    • Highly combustible trees and shrubbery should be spaced to prevent interlocking canopies at maturity. Consult with an arborist or forester if you are unsure which species are best for your property. All dead vegetation needs to be removed.
      • Prune lower limbs on all trees as suggested in the section above.
      • Islands of more dense trees or brush can be left if isolated from surrounding vegetation.   


      • Thin brush and limb trees within 30 feet of your driveway on each side, especially if it is more than 100 feet long. Increase the distance on the downhill side if the driveway crosses a slope. 
      • Leave at least 13.5 feet of clearance above the road surface for fire vehicles to pass under limbs.  

      Dispose of all debris safely.  Please do not burn debris.  See Woody Debris Disposal for Ashland Residents for local disposal options.


      If you aren't convinced that you need to be prepared for wildfire, read this.
      Ashland Fire and Rescue provides free inspections of your home for wildfire safety.  Contact Steve Parks at 552-2231 to schedule an appointment.

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