The once lush, green plants that permeate Fountain Hills’ Colony Wash had become dry and brittle — and the town’s No. 1 fire hazard.
In the hope of preventing a blaze, the town spent $123,000 this year stripping non-native plants out of the public-owned part of the wash, near Tioga and Panorama drives, along with 60 additional acres throughout the town.
The washes had become overrun by non-native plants, including desert broom and salt cedar.
“Those are very invasive species that will take over the washes very quickly,” assistant public works director John Morast said Monday.
“It’s fire fuel.”
Along with clearing the washes, the town is also stepping up fire safety efforts by informing residents.
The town produced a sixminute video, which has been airing on Fountain Hills cable channel 11, created to educate homeowners about protecting their property from wildfires.
Among the tips for home owners is clearing a “defensible space” to give fire less chance to crawl up trees and shrubs to attack the house.
The video is great way to educate residents about firesafety measures, especially with wildfire season right around the corner, assistant town manager Ellen Pence said.
“This is the season,” she said. “Wildfire safety is what we live with now.”
The two programs are part of Fountain Hills fire safety efforts.
Fountain Hills is working to become recognized as a Firewise Community.
Recognition in the national program requires that a municipality involve homeowners, community leaders, planners and firefighters in fire prevention programs.
“It’s showing our commitment towards becoming a Firewise Community,” said Fountain Hills Rural/Metro assistant fire chief/fire marshal Eric Kriwer.
“We’re in the early stages but that’s definitely the goal for Fountain Hills.”
Kriwer said he hopes the town will be certified by next spring.
Protecting homes from wildfires
• Keep a 30-foot clearing around a home of all non-native and dead plants
• Don’t store lumber or wood next to your home
• Keep all trees trimmed 3 to 5 feet from the ground
• Remove all desert broom and salt cedar from property
• Do not leave cut tree limbs on your property
SOURCE: Fountain Hills,
Fountain Hills Rural/Metro