Patrick Young, fire district Public Information Officer Patrick Young, said warm weather in Clallam County has allowed fine fuels such as grasses, brush and small bushes and trees to lose their moisture and makes them prone to easy ignition.
A popular misconception about the Olympic Peninsula is that the moisture levels remain high year-round and that wildfires cannot occur, he said.
But over the past few weeks Fire District 3, which has specifically trained firefighters to attack and control wildland fires, has responded to brush and grass fires that had the potential to become large events, he said. The best defense for homeowners is prevention and preparation.
Young said defensible space is the key to prevention. Depending on the location of the property, fire-safe landscaping should be provided in a 30-foot circumference and roofs should be provided with fireproof or fire resistant material and maintained free of debris, he said.
Combustible materials should be protected from the embers that typically precede a fire and land like snow around the home, according to a news release. In the event of a fire, quick access to the home or property is paramount and reflective and visible house numbers should be posted at the roadway. If a fire engine cannot safely access the area because of low-hanging branches or narrow roadways, the home may be skipped to protect properties that have safe access, Young said.
According to Firewise Communities, an organization dedicated to providing guidance to homeowners about wildfires, "Individuals and families can protect their homes and business against wildfires by addressing three clear zones of vulnerability: the home or business itself, the landscaping nearby and the general vegetation in the area surrounding the structure.”
Every year homes are lost in areas that are not considered “Forest or Wildlands” but instead are areas that are what many homeowners consider natural, Young said. Tall unmanaged grasses, brush and other plants that come into close or direct contact with the home are like a fuse to dynamite.
For complete information on protecting your home from wildfire, check out Firewise Communities’ website at www.firewise.org or contact Clallam County Fire District 3 at 683-4242.
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