What you need to know as a homeowner, before it’s too late

This house was saved from the Chelan Complex Fire because it had defensible space. Photo Kari Greer/USFS
This house was saved from the Chelan Complex Fire because it had defensible space. Photo Kari Greer/USFS

Winter weather may tempt you to let wildfire be the last thing on your mind. Well, don’t let it. Now is the time to prepare.

Wildfires are not going away. In fact, they are getting more destructive. Why? One reason is because many of us want to live in the woods, far from the hubbub of city life. Washington state ranks highest among all western states with the most developed with homes in the wildland-urban interface. Making this popular choice comes with more responsibility to create a safe place around your home.  If there are trees and shrubs up against your home, your house has very little chance of surviving a wildfire.

This is where defensible space and these 12 simple steps can play not only an important role, but also the most important role, in saving your home from wildfire. A community that bands together and takes responsibility to prepare for the threat of wildfire may suffer less loss in the end. Take it from someone who knows. Carolyn Bergland, a landowner who had to evacuate during the 2012 Taylor Bridge Fire in Ellensburg, advises:

“Landowners need to take fuels reduction and Firewise efforts seriously and educate their neighbors so that communities are able to be more resilient. By employing the principles of defensible space, you make it easier for firefighters to fight the fire and easier for a fire to go around you. It’s a sense of responsibility to the other people that live close by, and the community as a whole.”

If you think that wildfire isn’t something you have to worry about, consider the safety of the men and woman assigned to fight the fire that may threaten your home. We appreciate defensible homes, because they’re safer places for our firefighters to fight wildfire and crews can be more efficient, allowing them to move on to other areas that still need help.

Even in a more developed neighborhood, you can still be affected by wildfire. Look for green belts or open space areas around you that have the potential to catch fire and threaten your home. If you live in this situation, you may have winter work to do too.

For an in-depth look at what you can do to protect yourself, see the Ready Campaign’s How to Prepare for a Wildfire or go to www.firewise.org. See more of the story from Suzanne Wade with the Kittitas County Conservation District in the National Fire Protection Association newsletter, Fire Break.

 

 

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