West Linn neighbors work together to protect homes from wildfire

WEST LINN, Ore. - Firefighters, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) worked with homeowners in the Barrington Heights neighborhood to create a new Firewise Community.

"A Firewise Community is an established community that has talked about actions plans and what they can do to be more fire safe," said Firewise coordinator Jenna Nelson, who works for ODF.

ODF and firefighters with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue (TVF&R) worked with neighbors over the past few weeks to identify trouble spots on their property. Neighbors were instructed what steps to take to create a defensible space around their homes. In many cases, that included trimming low-hanging branches from trees and clear shrubs and other vegetation that sat right next to homes.

"All the stuff against the house, we cleared like a foot-and-a-half to two feet from the house," said Suzanne Trebick. "Things were touching the house."

Trebick admitted she never thought much about fire danger in her neighborhood. But when she received a fire assessment from fire crews, she chose to completely overhaul her property.

"We probably removed more stuff than anybody else on the block," she said.

Fire crews also used the opportunity to focus on ODOT land behind some of the homes. That land leads down to Interstate 205. Crews worked to create a fuel break between homes and brush that goes down the hill. The goal was to create a barrier for a fire that might race uphill.

"Fires start every year on the freeway," said Nelson. "Catalytic converters, people throwing cigarettes, that sort of thing."

Homeowners were responsible for clearing their own properties, but ODF paid for all of that material to be hauled away.

For more information on protecting your home from wildfire, visit the Firewise website.