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Fire season begins with safety program

NORTH BEND - The summer months are expected to be dry, and while that might bode well for sun lovers, the lack of rain greatly increases the chances of fire.

To better ensure residents are safeguarding their homes against a possible wildfire, like the one that burned about 30 acres last year in Carnantion, Eastside Fire and Rescue and North Bend officials are hosting a free FireWise workshop from 7-9 p.m. on June 8 at the Mount Si Senior Center.

The seminar will consist of talks from fire officials and the showing of educational films. The main topic to be discussed, Williams said, will be how to better safeguard your house in case of a fire.

The majority of fires in the area, she said, make their way along the ground. Simple measures, such as clearing brush near your house and making sure wild grass is pulled can increase the chances of saving your house in a fire, she added

According to FireWise statistics, by creating a 30-foot defensible space around homes in wooded areas, the chance of loss in a wildfire is reduced by 50 percent.

FireWise is a fire prevention program that is funded in cooperation with the United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs. In Washington, the program is administered through the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

The program was started following the 2000 fire season, one of the most costly and destructive in history. Following the season, Congress funded a grant program to allow for clearing of fire-vulnerable shrubbery and trees around communities either in or bordering heavily wooded areas.

Firefighters have information to dispense, said Williams, but with the FireWise program the participants "become the disciples" organizing meetings of their own and passing along the message of safety.

Williams said a series of video tapes covering many of issues discussed in the forum will be available at the North Bend library in the upcoming weeks.

For information about the meeting, call North Bend City Hall at (425) 888-1211 or Eastside Fire and Rescue at (425) 392-3433.

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