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Living With Fire Tip #6: Dead or Alive?

Posted 5/28/2008

Dead vegetation poses a much greater fire hazard than living plants.

"Actively growing plants can control the amount of water in their tissues by drawing on moisture from the soil to get more or by transpiring moisture to reduce the amount," explains Ed Smith, natural resource specialist, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Smith says that dead vegetation, such as pine needles, dried grass and weeds, dead branches and dead shrubs and trees should be removed from around the home during fire season.

"The water content of dead vegetation is controlled by the amount of moisture in the air," Smith says. "If it’s a hot, sunny day, with low humidity, dead vegetation will be very dry." The drier the vegetation, the more likely it will be ignited and the faster it will burn. Smith encourages residents to keep checking their yards for wildfire threats throughout the summer. Some plants may dry out and die, and wind blows branches, dry tumbleweeds and other debris into yards. "Keeping your plants watered and your yard free of dead plant material and debris are two pretty easy things you can do to help protect your home from wildfire," Smith says.

To learn more about protecting your home from the threat of wildfire, visit website or contact Smith at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, 775-782-9960 or email. Living With Fire is an interagency program coordinated by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

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