Each year, wildland fires consume homes in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) and in areas where homes are built near or among lands prone to wildland fire.
This year, according to a report by the National Interagency Fire Center, Western Washington will be more prone to these WUI fires than usual. In fact, the west side saw 51 fires in March alone. In light of these predictions, the Valley Regional Fire Authority strongly encourages Algona, Auburn and Pacific residents to take steps to protect their homes.
Studies show that as much as 80 percent of homes lost to wildland fire might have been saved had brush around the homes been cleared and defensible space created around structures. If you see fire risk-areas around your home, there is no better time than now to prepare.
Wildfire experts have identified three main “ignition zones” around a typical home: the immediate zone (0 to 5 feet); the intermediate zone (5 to 30 feet); and the extended zone (30 to 100 feet).
In all three zones, it is important to maintain vegetation, trim branches that overhang roofs or porches and rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. In the Immediate Zone, consider using non-combustible materials such as crushed stone and gravel.
Other steps you can take to reduce your risk include:
• Clean your gutters and clear off dead leaves, pine needles and anything that can burn from your roof, decks, porches and patios;
• Seal any roof and attic vents that embers could get into, using tightly woven wire mesh screening;
• Trim shrubs or tree branches that come closer than five feet to your home;
• Remove “ladder fuels” – smaller shrubs under trees and trim tree branches that are close to the ground;
• Keep grass trimmed, especially if it is dry;
• Remove any flammable materials from underneath decks and porches;
• Store wood piles away from your home;
• Clear the area around propane tanks and barbecues;
• Store outdoor furniture cushions when they’re not in use.
For more information, follow the “WUI Home Project of the Week” campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Nextdoor; contact the VRFA at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-288-5800, or the State Department of Natural Resources at dnr.wa.gov.