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Reduce Fire Risk with Tree Debris Piles

Reduce Fire Risk with Tree Debris Piles

September 2, 2020

The City of Cedar Rapids continues to have a burn ban in effect indefinitely due to the prolonged dry conditions, which has created a significant fire danger with tree debris and leaves that have dried out. The burn ban includes recreational fires. To report an illegal burn, please contact the Fire Department at 319-286-5491. 

Crews from the City, Iowa Department of Transportation, and contractors continue to work on tree debris removal.  To view the latest progress map: https://cedar-rapids.org/debris_removal_map.php.  Tree debris that is left curbside will be picked up.  The City will be making several rounds to continue to pick up debris. 

The Fire Department, in consultation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and experts in wildland-urban interface, recommend limiting the amount of flammable vegetation around your home.  To reduce ember ignitions and fire spread, trim branches that overhang your home, porch, and deck and prune branches of large trees up to 6 to 10 feet (depending on their height) from the ground.  Remove plants containing resins, oils, and waxes.  Used crush stone or gravel instead of flammable mulches in 5 feet area immediately around your home.  Do not store firewood, outdoor furniture, or other items such as trash containers in this 5-foot zone around your home.  Ensure yard debris and dead plant material does not accumulate in this zone. 

You may also choose to water a limited buffer area of your lawn, between the dry debris on the curbside and your home. This can provide green vegetation and may act as an additional barrier. 

Please ensure that the tree debris is in the right-of-way, which is the space between the curb and the sidewalk (or the area close to the curb if you don’t have a sidewalk).  This creates a barrier between the tree debris and the rest of your property.  Residents may choose to use a garden hose or sprinkler to wet down debris if there is not an adequate barrier between the tree debris pile and your home. 

The burn ban, which seeks to minimize the risk of fire in the first place, coupled with mitigation steps to create a safety barrier around your home and the ongoing curbside pickup of tree debris, has been an effective strategy at this point in the Derecho storm recovery process. 

Residents are asked to help keep the street, sidewalk, and area around fire hydrants clear of storm debris. The Fire Department recommends 3 feet clearance on all sides of the fire hydrant. It is also important to rake or shovel debris away from storm drains and inlets, to reduce the risk of street flooding if heavy rains occur in the near future.

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