BOISE — After a small brush fire blackened a hillside in the Boise foothills Friday afternoon, fire officials are urging residents to take a look at their yards and homes and make sure they aren't fuel for fire.
"Sagebrush, juniper, arborvitaes and those kinds of things are our three biggest hit list items if you will, we just like to see them a little bit further away from the home," said Romeo Gervais, the Boise Fire Department's deputy chief fire marshal.
Gervais says that's because they are highly flammable.
"So, we just don't like to see those in and around homes; they collect a lot of underbrush with dead leaves and things like that," Gervais said.
Better options are plants and trees rich with moisture, ones that don't accumulate much dead material or a desert landscape.
You can find dozens of examples of low- and high-ignition landscapes here.
"No one thinks of their home as fuel," Boise resident Tom Burns said.
Burns re-did his entire yard when he moved into his foothills home to create a buffer. He cleared out dry shrubs close to the house and replaced them with 14 tons of river rock.
"We had that much tonnage delivered to the house from the foundry and it was under $200. It’s really about 10 feet out from the house, and all the plants we have are moisture laden, so there is very little silt, very little buildup of oils or resins in them," Burns said.
Two years ago, the devastating Table Rock Fire blazed near Burns' neighborhood.
"I was certain that very good friends of mine were standing to lose their home," Burns recalls.
He wishes his neighbors would take similar precautions with their landscapes.
"The key of a good community is a community that pays attention to its surroundings, but more importantly it’s a community that pays attention to each other," Burns said.