Fire season is coming. Are you ready?
Fire districts are taking extra precautions for the upcoming fire season after last year’s summer and fall fires. The Archie Creek fire alone burned 131,591 acres and destroyed 109 homes.
Kyle Reed, fire prevention specialist and public information officer with the Douglas Forest Protective Association (DFPA), is concerned.
“Douglas County has already had a bit of a dry season with drought for the fourth year in a row,” Reed says.
This dryness is especially concerning because the snowpack from the higher elevations doesn’t affect areas like Roseburg.
Lisa Sulffridge, a volunteer for Douglas County’s search and rescue program, also has a few concerns.
“We have remaining large areas of forest throughout the state that are very full of dense brush and dead debris which provides extensive fuel for fires like we saw last year,” she says.
Sulffridge also raised concern about windstorms, lower than average rainfall and the snowpack this year.
“I am hoping that after last year’s experience the citizens of our state that live in areas that are in danger from wildfire have taken measures to better prepare themselves and their space in response” Sulffridge says.
“We are planning from the search and rescue side of things, to be better prepared in case of another major evacuation situation like we saw last year,” Sulffridge says.
According to Sulffridge, funds were granted to the Emergency Management department that allowed for the purchase of appropriate gear for volunteers for such major evacuation situations.
The Search and Rescue team has also been learning and preparing to implement a new electronic system that will allow them to find, locate and document each address as they work through the areas. This would be help with getting people out and to safety in case of another catastrophic fire, according to Sulffridge.
The time to help prevent the spread of wildfires is now, according to these fire prevention experts. Reed explains that one of the most important things we can do is make sure homes and buildings have defensible space.
Reed advises the following practices for creating this defensible space:
● Clear out underbrush and poison oak from the perimeter of all buildings
● Thin out trees so they are spaced further away from each other
● Be smart with your storage/ placement of flammable materials
● Work on removing any other hazardous items around buildings which could catch on fire from embers.
These practices should be done to ensure that homes and buildings have 100 to 200 feet of defensible space around them, Reed says.
The National Fire Protection Association also lists quite a few more ways to create a more defensible space.
● Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches, and decks (this prevents embers from igniting your home)
● Remove dead vegetation and other items from under your deck or porch and within 10 feet of your home (defensible space)
● Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris from accumulating there
● Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6-10 feet from the ground
For a more extensive list of how to prepare your home see the NFPA, the DFPA or the Douglas County Fire Department websites.
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