There was a fire in the Berkeley hills yesterday. A home in the 1400 block of Queens Drive was gutted by the fire. The home was completely surrounded by eucalyptus trees, some branches overhanging the home. The trees did not ignite. The leaves do not appear to be scorched by the fire.
The claim that eucalyptus is used as kindling is something we have not heard before. In fact, it makes no sense since the oil in eucalyptus is contained in the leaves, not in the wood, which is the usual definition of kindling. However, we are accustomed to new anti-eucalyptus stories being fabricated at every opportunity.
We won’t repeat all the evidence that eucalyptus is not more flammable than other trees in this post because our readers have heard it all before. We will just remind you that all reputable sources of information about preventing wildfires inform homeowners that the species of plants and trees are irrelevant to fire safety.
All species of plants and trees will burn under certain circumstances, such as a wind-driven fire on a hot, dry day. Property owners can reduce their risks of wildfire with appropriate maintenance, such as removing lower limbs on all trees, pruning trees and shrubs away from structures, and removing accumulated leaf litter.
In the case of the fire on Queens Road, the neighbors put themselves in harm’s way by parking cars on both sides of a narrow street, narrowing the road to one-lane which severely restricted access to the home by fire trucks.
As usual, humans are always looking for a non-human scapegoat for the risks they choose to take. Rather than taking care of the vegetation around their home and reducing the number of cars parked on a narrow road, they prefer to blame the trees. In this case the trees had nothing to do with this fire.