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We have a lot of highly flammable plants around our homes,

Thirders, But we have fire-resistant options

Some of the Third’s most popular trees and mulches are considered highly flammable and make our properties more vulnerable to fire damage, according to FireSmart® Canada.


Cedar, juniper, pine, spruce, and bark mulch are all on the national organization’s list of plants to avoid. So is tall grass.


Gulp. All we need to do is look out our windows, go for a walk, or get ourselves to work to see the potential for fires. But it isn’t only our forests that are at risk.



FireSmart® recommends that there be a 10-metre boundary between our homes and highly flammable plants. Metres, not feet. That means many homes in the Third are vulnerable to fires should they occur. Combined with the slumlords, absentee landlords, and seemingly abandoned properties with tall grass, and we could be in trouble.


The entire Third either consists of large swaths of forested land or patches of wooded areas scattered in between our communities and neighbourhoods that are large enough to experience a large wildfire, such as the Hammonds Plains wildfire.

Photo by cleo stracuzza on Unsplash

Those in the fire-preventing business refer to these areas as the wildland-urban interface. Where urban development meets woodland area there is an increased risk of fire. The deadwood from Fiona doesn’t help.


According to Bruce MacDonald, CBRM’s Manager of Emergency Management, it is the Third’s coast that was hardest hit by Fiona. So, it is the communities of Louisbourg, Port Morien, Donkin, Birtch Grove, Albert Bridge, and Gabarus that are currently our most vulnerable.


Other than pouring concrete around our homes, there are some precautions we can take.


Fire resistant plants


Let’s be clear: fire resistant and fireproof are not synonymous. Fire-resistant plants around your home will not save it from fire damage. Fire-resistant plants are those that do not readily ignite from flame or other ignition sources. These plants can be damaged or even killed by fire; however, their foliage and stems do not significantly contribute to the fuel and fire intensity.


Fire resistant plants and trees have moist, supple, scent-free leaves instead of the dry, brittle, fragrant needles of pine and spruce. According to FireSmart®, fire resistant plants also have water-like sap or are sap-free and produce little or no deadwood as they grow.


Fortunately, many good options grow in the Third, such as lilac; sumac; vine maple; crab apple; and hackberry.


Takeaway: a 10-metre boundary between structures and highly flammable plants, take extra precautions in wildland-urban interfaces, and Fiona really messed a lot of things up in the Third.

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