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Preparing your home for wildland fire season

The Office of the State Fire Marshal offers these tips on how to prepare your home for the upcoming fire season:

* Remove dead or overhanging branches. During the windy conditions that exist during a wildland fire, flames, and sparks, could travel from trees to the roof of your home.

* Remove leaf accumulation from your yard. Leaf accumulation provides fuel for a wildland fire.

* Remove leaf clutter from your roof and gutters. During a wildland fire, leaves on the roof and/or in the gutters could be ignited by flying embers.

* Remove tall, dry grasses. Tall, dry grasses provide a path for fire that can lead directly to a house.

* Prune tree limbs so the lowest is between six and ten feet from the ground. Fire burning through tall, dry grass could ignite these limbs and climb to the top of the tree.

* Check your generator to be sure it is in good repair.

A Firewise Landscape

Is your landscape surrounding your home or vacation property safe from the threat of a wildland fire? We never know where or when a wildland fire will strike next, but you plan ahead and install a firewise landscape.

You should consider the following when designing and installing a firewise landscape:

* What is the areas fire history?

* Site location and overall terrain.

* What are the patterns of the prevailing winds and seasonal weather?

* What are the contours and boundaries of your property?

* What type of native vegetation is around and on your property?

To create a firewise landscape you must remember that the primary goal is fuel reduction. Divide your landscape plan into four zones;

with zone one being the closet to your structure.

Zone 1 - This well-irrigated area encircles the structure for at least 30 feet on all sides, providing space for fire suppression equipment in the event of an emergency. Plantings should be limited to carefully spaced low flammability plants.

Zone 2 - Low flammability plant materials should be used here. Plants should be low-growing, and the irrigation system should extend into this section.


Zone 3 - Place low-growing plants and well-spaced trees in this area, remembering to keep the volume of the vegetation low. The more vegetation the more fuel a wildland fire can burn.

Zone 4 - This is the furthest zone from the structure and is a natural area. Selectively prune and thin all plants and remove highly flammable vegetation.

Remember a little pre-planning can result into huge benefits if a wildland fire should strike close.

For information on the Web, visit the Firewise home page at www.firewise.org.

For additional fire safety tips visit the Washington State Patrol - Office of the State Fire Marshal Web page at http://www.wsp.wa.gov/firemars.htm or contact your local fire department.

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