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Community-built fuel breaks help save Yarnell from Tenderfoot Fire

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PHOENIX — After the devastation of the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire, the town of Yarnell took steps to prevent a future wildfire from destroying homes.

Community members decided to create fuel breaks, which means the town trimmed down grass and brush around Yarnell. It created a buffer zone that prevents a wildfire from having enough fuel to burn close to the town.

Fuel breaks help firefighters in those early moments battling the blaze.

“Those fuel breaks allowed for the firefighters to get in an area safely,” Dolores Garcia, spokeswoman for the Tenderfoot Fire, said. “[Firefighters] took an offensive approach to the fire instead of a defensive approach.”

Garcia said those fuel breaks made a huge difference.

“I can say with 100 percent certainty that those fuel breaks did help to save those homes in Yarnell,” Garcia said.

Garcia said other communities around the state have created fuel breaks in case a fire strikes their town, although many have not had the chance to test them. Garcia said Yarnell is a good example of why those fuel breaks are necessary when it comes to fighting fires.

“It’s very reassuring for some of those communities who have done the work, that haven’t been tried and tested, to continue going because those efforts do pay off,” Garcia said.

The Tenderfoot Fire, which burned over 4,000 acres, is 90 percent contained.

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