Skip to main content

Eastern Redcedar as a Hazardous Fuel

This is an aerial photo of land full of red cedar.Eastern redcedar taking over the land. 

Why is Eastern Redcedar a Hazardous Fuel?

  • Eastern redcedar’s (ERC) fine foliage contains volatile oils that make it ignite and burn easily.
  • ERC’s growth form brings the flammable foliage close to the ground, where a grass fire can ignite it.
  • When ERC grows in forests and woodlands, it acts as a ladder fuel to allow fire to climb into the crowns of taller trees.
  • When ERC burns, it showers thousands of burning embers downwind, which increases the chance of spot fires and the overall rate of fire spread.
  • ERC is often planted in farmstead windbreaks or as an accent plant, where it may come in contact with a house, creating a path for fire to spread onto the home.


Eastern redcedar invades native forests and can cause the destruction of fire-tolerant trees if a wildfire moves through the area.


Creating fuel breaks (such as sidewalks or driveways), clearing a 30-foot area around the house, using construction material that is fire resistant or noncombustible, mowing regularly, and similar processes can help protect a home during a wildfire.


This is a photo of a fire-safe house. 

Eastern redcedar are a ladder fuel, and can transport a ground fire to the roof of a home.





This is a photo of a house surrounded by cedar.

 Homes built on land invaded by eastern redcedar run a higher risk of burning during a fire. Owners need to acquire the knowledge to protect themselves and their belongings. One way to accomplish this is by allowing a 30- to 60-foot open space between eastern redcedars and the roofline. Prune any eastern redcedar growing close to the home to at least six feet above the ground.


This is an aerial photo of a residential area with quite a bit of cedar.

Eastern redcedar is a ladder fuel because of its growth form. A ladder fuel provides a path for a fire to go from grass fuel on the ground up into a tree canopy. If a house (also fuel) is next to the tree, it will burn. Eastern redcedar is a volatile fuel that contains chemical compounds that burn rapidly and at high temperatures. Thus, when eastern redcedar ignites, it is hazardous to homeowners and firefighters alike.


This is a photo of firefighters.


For more information, contact the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry - Forestry Service at 405.521.3864 or any of the other participating agencies.




This is the logo for Oklahoma Forestry Services.








This is the logo for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.








This is the logo of the OSU Cooperative Extension Service.








Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry - Forestry Service


United States Department of Agriculture - Forestry Service


Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service


Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation


Natural Resources Conservation Service

Was this information helpful?
Fact Sheet
The Exotic, Invasive Chinese Tallow

By Amy Buthod, Jeri Irby, Karen Hickman and Laura Goodman. Learn about the invasive Chinese Tallow trees and how to control them

Forest Ecology, Management & CareForest HealthForestry
Fact Sheet
Patch Burning: Integrating Fire and Grazing to Promote Heterogeneity

This publication outlines the importance of fire and grazing for native plant communities, wildlife, and livestock.

Prescribed FireRangeland ManagementWeather & Disaster PreparednessWildfire PreventionWildfires
Back To Top