Preparation can protect homes from wildfire risk

NEWS RELEASE

June 26, 2014

For further information, contact:

Rick Osborn, Public Information Officer, Benton County Board of Commissioners

(541) 766-6082, rick.osborn@co.benton.or.us

Preparation can protect homes from wildfire risk

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Benton County and wildfire safety experts from the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise Communities Program are encouraging residents to prepare their homes for the impending wildfire season.

There is an expected increase in risk of wildfire activity in the Pacific Northwest this year. National trends show that wildfire risk and the size of many wildfires are growing. Due to increasing wildland fire activity over the past decade, NFPA experts and Benton County leaders continue engaging with residents and communities about what they can do to prepare before a wildfire strikes their areas. Wildfires do not have to burn everything in their paths. Following are some tips to help prevent and protect against wildfire:

  • Outdoor burn bans are in effect. Trash and debris should not be burned when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush, household garbage and other debris is a main cause of wildfire;
  • When camping or hunting, check local restrictions on campfires. Use an approved gas stove as an alternative for heating and cooking. If charcoal grills are permitted, use them only over fireproof surfaces such as asphalt or bare mineral soil;
  • Dispose of smoking materials properly. Extinguish them in an ashtray and don’t throw them out the window;
  • Avoid parking or idling on dry grass. Catalytic converters can get hot enough to ignite the grass;
  • Keep water available when using welding equipment or cutting torches around grass and brush. A five-gallon bucket of water with a tote sack in it could prove valuable if sparks or hot pieces of metal catch nearby grass on fire;
  • Avoid setting hot chainsaws or other gas-powered equipment in dry grass, which could ignite after coming into contact with the hot mufflers on the equipment;
  • Clear leaves, fir needles and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting homes;
  • Keep lawns hydrated and maintained. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire. If it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity;
  • Remove fuel within 3 to 5 feet of structural foundations, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch any part of a house, including decks and porches;
  • Remove dead vegetation surrounding homes within a 30- to 100-foot area; Wildfire can spread to treetops. If large trees inhabit a property, it is important to prune so the lowest branches are between 6 and 10 feet off the ground;
  • Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of them quickly to reduce fuel for fire;
  • When planting, choose slow-growing, carefully placed shrubs and trees so the area can be more easily maintained; and
  • Use native and less-flammable plants in landscaping. The Pacific Northwest Extension office has prepared a publication with plant information, available online at http://www.firefree.org/images/uploads/FIR_FireResPlans_07.pdf.

More than 800 communities in the United States – including three in Benton County – have dramatically lowered their risk of wildfire damage by participating in the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program. For more information, those interested can go online to http://www.firewise.org. Benton County residents can learn more about region-specific Firewise principles at http://www.co.benton.or.us/cd/cwpp/protection.php.

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