Defensible space takes 'fuel away from the fire to give a structure a better chance'

OAKRIDGE, Ore. -- Fire crews are working to clear brush in neighborhoods closest to the Deception Creek Complex as forecasters predict warm and dry weather will stir up fire activity throughout the week.

"Any time the winds come up here... it just takes a little bit of that to float away and burn," said firefighter Kris Miller.

Officials say cooler weekend weather has slowed the growth of the Deception Creek Complex's largest fire, the over 1,900 acre Deception Creek Fire, and has allowed them to clear defensible space around structures to better protect homes from this fire or future fires.

"You see a wall of brush here and what we want to do with our crews is we want to remove all that under story brush that is underneath the canopy," pre-suppression supervisor Kevin Crowell said.

Creating defensible space is clearing the understory of brush, dead trees and branches, and tall grass from around a structure to take away the fuel from an advancing fire. Crews typically leave the healthy trees in place, working to clear anywhere from a 100 to 1,000 foot space around a building.

"We want the fire to come down to a certain point and feel like it's running out of fuel, feel like it's starving. Come down to the ground and out of the trees," said Crowell.

Last week, winds picked up some embers from inside the Deception Creek fire embers, sparking spot fires by some homes outside Oakridge nearly a mile away. The fires placed some nearby residents under a level 2 evacuation for the day.

Crowell says crews are creating thousands of feet of defensible space around homes in areas closest to the fire.

"It gives (the structure) the best chance. It really is dependent on weather, topography, fuels. But we got to do what we can to just get this jump on it to rob that fuel away from the fire to give a structure a better chance," said Crowell.

Officials said fire activity will pick up throughout the week. They said it's a good reminder for homeowners to create a defensible space and to remove any debris from roofs and gutters.