Northwest Fire District's Ironwood Hotshots were called last week to Kitt Peak to fight their first official Arizona wildfire of the season.

Brushfire danger in greater Tucson area isn't far behind, and Northwest firefighters said homes should be defended by ridding properties of "April Fuels" — the dried brush, weeds and grasses that that are drying out in the warmer, windy weather.

Non-native grasses will soon be dried tinder, waiting for a spark. Particularly in urban interface areas, these grasses could carry brushfire up canyons and washes right to homes, vehicles and outbuildings. "This makes defensible space more important than ever this year," a release said.

A defensible space provides an area clear of fuel that could stop or slow a brushfire.

It also provides firefighters enough space to get close enough to a home to defend it.

A defensible space of at least 30 feet around a home "is the most important step in protecting your family and property from brushfire," the release said.

To create and maintain this defensible space:

• Clear away all flammable vegetation — dead and dry plants, trees and shrubs — from at least 30 feet around your home, outbuildings and parked vehicles.

• Remove and dispose of leaves from rain gutters.

• Eliminate large tree limbs that hang over your house or garage.

• Trim low hanging branches to a minimum of four feet off the ground.

Other tips to help avoid fueling the brushfire season include:

• Barbecue briquettes may remain warm enough to start a fire for 2 to 3 days. Leave them in the barbecue for several days or cool them completely with water.

• Cigarettes dropped to the ground or out of a car window can ignite weeds, shrubs or grass. Discard matches and cigarettes in appropriate metal containers or ashtrays; never assume they will extinguish themselves.

• Vehicle engines get hot enough to ignite dry brush along the roadway. If you must pull over, look for an area without vegetation.

• Help remove neighborhood hazards. Keep tree limbs trimmed away from utility lines and remove debris from alleyways. If you notice brushfire hazards in your neighborhood, speak with the property owners or ask your fire district to evaluate the area for hazards.

• Make sure emergency vehicles can find you. Your address should be clearly visible from the street. Roads should be wide enough to provide access for fire trucks and a safe escape route for you.

• Store flammable liquids safely. If you must keep gasoline on hand, it should be stored outside the home, tightly sealed in an approved container. Keep it and all flammable products, such as cleaners and paints, away from pilot lights and other sources of ignition.

For additional safety information, contact Northwest Fire District at 887-1010.

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