Preparing Your Home for Wildfire

Preparing Your Home for Wildfire: Start at the Home and the First 3 Feet

What is the #1 Risk to a Home During a Wildfire?

One word: Embers. Two out of every three structures lost during a wildfire are lost due to embers. During a fire, these small pieces of burning material fly on the wind and land on your roof and hit the walls of your home. They then fall into your gutters or onto the ground close to your home. If there are combustible materials in your gutters or near the external walls of your home, such as mulch, flammable vegetation or other materials, then they will catch fire. Once the fire is established and growing on your roof or next to your home, your home can quickly catch fire and be engulfed in flames in minutes.

To protect your home, start with the first three feet!

What you can do:

  1. Start with your home:
    • Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris and pine needles that could catch embers.
    • Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration.
    • Reduce embers that could pass through vents in the eaves by installing 1/8-inch metal mesh screening.
    • Clean debris from exterior attic vents and install 1/8-inch metal mesh screening to reduce embers.
    • Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
  2. Clear the first three feet:
  • Keep the first 3 feet around the base of the house and any outbuildings completely free of any fuel for a fire.
  • Remove all vegetation. Widely-spaced plantings of low-growing, well-irrigated succulents are acceptable.
  • Remove leaves, needles, organic landscaping mulch and anything that can burn.
  • Remove wood piles or other combustible materials.
  • Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches.
  • Use hardscape such as gravel mulch, lava rock, concrete or even clean dirt in this area.

If your home is in the Wildland Urban Interface: Please watch this video that demonstrates how a house with combustible mulch and plantings around a home fares in an ember storm, please click here.

We are available to help: For more information on how to protect your home, please contact the Mill Valley Fire Department at 415-389-4130 or email us at