How to prepare for the coming wildfire?

William Whatley quasho at
Sun Jan 21 09:29:58 EST 2001


Any mitigation measure is better than none at all.  As you probably have seen at
Los Alamos, the big ponderosas literally "exploded" because the fire created its
own storm, was extremely hot and moved extremely fast is some areas. The burning
debris were ejected considerable distances and came in contact with other trees
as well as architectural structures.  In many areas, the fire storm was a crown
fire that moved through the top of the trees.  If there were "ladder" fuels for
the crown fire to move up...or down...those opportunities were usually readily
taken by the fire.  In fact, during Cerro Grande recovery, I noticed debris
around big ponderosas that had been ejected 70 feet causing spot fires where they
landed.  As for the asphalt roofing, a house over by Tramway and Central caught
fire the other day and burned fast simply because the roofer was using a
hand-held propane bottle torch to heat a ball of asphalt for a simple repair on
the clients asphalt roof. One spark in the wrong place and asphalt will burn
rapidly.  As you probably already know, in a wildfire storm, it is difficult to
breath not just because of the heat but also because the air is full of hot
sparks. I'm getting ready to build up in the Jemez. The Cerro Grande has made me
completely rethink my structural layout and site design plans.


"Martin E. Lewitt" wrote:

> In article <3A67D2A7.35BB6144 at>,
> William Whatley  <quasho at> wrote:
> >Ideally, I would not recommend having any large timber
> >within 75 feet of the structure, even more if you have trees in excess
> >of 75 feet.
> One of the reasons we live where we do is to enjoy the ponderosa pine.
> I've got a notch cut in my roof for one of them, but the branches don't
> begin until above the roof line.  I figure, I hope correctly, that the
> house is more likely to bridge flames up to it than the other way
> around.  What I did with the other Ponderosa's near my house is to cut
> down all the small trees (and there were some), that bridged the 1.5 to
> 2 story gap.  There are only a few on my property, so I don't see
> anyway for them to transmit a crown fire to my house.  However, a grass
> and brush fire could reach my house, though I have trimmed that down
> quite a bit.  My current roof is asphalt shingles, my next one will
> probably be metal.
> I thought this was a reasonable compromise in risk.  Burning embers
> that have flown some distance may be able to torch my house, especially
> if the fire departments just evacuate. A rapidly moving wind blown
> brush fire, might be able to create flames high enough and horizontal
> enough to bridge to my house, with my wood balconies being
> the most vunerable, 1 story vertically, but only 3 ft horizontal
> from where the flames could be coming up the ridge.   -- Martin
> --
> Personal, not work info:         Martin E. Lewitt             My opinions are
> Domain: lewitt at          P.O. Box 729                 my own, not my
> Hm phone:  (505) 281-3248        Sandia Park, NM 87047-0729   employer's.

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