Wildfire Awareness Month kicks off in Washington

May is time to prepare for wildfire

Every year, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) highlights the importance of wildfire prevention and preparedness by declaring the month of May as “Wildfire Awareness Month.”

The goal of the month is to spread the word about wildfire prevention and steps residents can take to make their homes and property safer from fire.

“Each year, wildfires endanger our firefighters, neighbors, and landscapes,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, who leads the state’s wildland firefighting force. “Wildfire Awareness Month reminds us that we all have a part to play in preventing wildfires and protecting our communities. I urge everyone to take simple, precautionary steps like pruning trees around homes and removing leaves and twigs from yards.”

Washington experiences its heaviest wildfire activity during the summer, but fires occur all seasons of the year, including spring. This year, DNR has responded to 170 wildfire incidents. Half of those were west of the Cascades.

Washington is not alone. Together, with 10 other western states, Gov. Jay Inslee and Commissioner Franz will kick off the month with a joint proclamation to remind residents to prepare now for wildfires.

Homeowners urged to take action early: Wildfires that occur in the wildland-urban interface often are started by human activity. Once underway, a fire follows the fuel, whether that fuel is trees or houses.

Trees, large and small, near or far, are everywhere around here. All indications point to another hot and dry summer - which means another year of fire hazards. Photo: Morf Morford

Trees, large and small, near or far, are everywhere around here. All indications point to another hot and dry summer – which means another year of fire hazards. Photo: Morf Morford

To get an early start on Wildfire Awareness Month, join neighbors and reduce your community wildfire risk by taking part in National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on Saturday, May 4. The National Fire Protection Association has teamed up with State Farm Insurance to encourage residents to commit a couple of hours, or the entire day, to help raise wildfire awareness and work together on projects to protect homes and communities from the threat of wildfire.

Property owners can commit just a few hours to reduce fire risk to their homes and lands by keeping dead vegetation off roofs and away from buildings. The Firewise USA program explains how to use these techniques and offers incentives to communities that follow wildfire risk reduction principles. Here are a few tips to prepare for wildfire:

Remove dead trees, limbs and twigs from your yard. Clear away all flammable vegetation from your home.

Remove tree branches that hang over the roof

Clean debris from gutters

Prune trees and shrubs

Mow your yard regularly

DNR’s wildfire mission

Led by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 13 million acres of private, state, and tribal-owned land. DNR is the state’s wildfire fighting force.

– DNR