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Ember Aware tip #2: Unclutter the gutter

Posted 5/12/2009

Gutters filled with dead leaves, twigs or needles can ignite when embers rain down

Note: This is the second in an ongoing series of tips for homeowners living in fire-prone areas. Each week, Cooperative Extension Natural Resource Specialist Ed Smith will be providing Be Ember Aware tips for homeowners who want to reduce the risk of losing their home to embers created from wildfires. Nevada has more than 250 communities that face a wildfire threat, and 68 communities are at extreme and high risk. For more information on protecting your home from wildfires, visit livingwithfire.info

By: Ed Smith

natural resource specialist, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension

(775) 782-9960

Rain gutters attached to the edge of your roof are the perfect contraptions for catching embers during wildfire. Burning embers can land on the roof, roll down and come to rest in the rain gutters. And, if the rain gutters are filled with dried leaves, pine needles, and twigs, a fire can start and possibly ignite the roof, fascia and eaves. Even houses with fire resistant roofs are vulnerable to this type of ember attack. Rain gutters made of plastic or vinyl may even melt and drop into flower beds, igniting plants next to the house.

To keep your home safe, we suggest that you:

  • Remove all dried leaves, pine needles or other materials from your rain gutters before fire season. Over the winter, debris often accumulates in them.
  • Keep your ladder handy and check your rain gutters throughout the fire season, cleaning them out as necessary.
  • Consider installing raingutter covers to reduce the need for maintenance.
  • If wildfire is approaching and there is no time to clean out the debris, plug the rain gutter down spout with a tennis ball, or something similar, and fill the rain gutter with water.

To learn more about protecting your home from the ember threat, visit www.livingwithfire.info and request a free copy of our new publication, Be Ember Aware!, download it at www.unce.unr.edu or contact Ed Smith at (775) 782-9960. Be Ember Aware is a component of the Living With Fire program, an interagency program coordinated by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

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