Mesa, AZ -- Protecting yourself against disaster is worth whatever it costs, but it doesn't have to be a big-ticket item.
The Trimble family managed to protect their home near Pinedale, Navajo County, against Arizona's biggest wildfire in decades with $500 worth of supplies and a little sweat equity. The Trimble house was the only building in their area that survived the Rodeo-Chediski fire in late June.
The Trimbles built their house on ten wooded acres in the 1970s and made it their primary residence in 1981. To make it easier to remove highly flammable pine needles, Glenn Trimble bought decomposed granite - four truckloads at $120 a load - and spread it around the house and yard. The granite also absorbs runoff and helps keep the area clean after rains. And it created a defensible space around their home.
"The fire started on Monday," Mrs. Lois Trimble recalled. "Wednesday morning, ash was raining down all around us. My son called and told us the fire had exploded. We looked and saw it coming over the ridge. We were told we had one hour to evacuate.
"Because we had experienced this five years ago, we knew exactly what to grab - important papers, food, clothes and photo albums." The family was evacuated to the town of Eagar and stayed at a shelter there until it was safe to return.
The granite did its job. Although the outbuildings, vehicles and boats were destroyed, the Trimble house was untouched by the fire. Trees, shrubs and a garden in the cleared area also survived the fire. Extensive smoke and soot damage made the house temporarily uninhabitable, so the family is staying in their trailer until cleanup and repairs are completed.
The fire, which eventually burned 468,000 acres and more than 450 northern Arizona homes, destroyed all their neighbors' houses and outbuildings. The Trimbles' $200,000 house was spared because of an investment of less than $500.