The combination of high temperatures, low humidity, and warm breezes create a recipe for the increased risk of Brush and Forest Fires. Wildfires often begin unnoticed, but spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. There are three different classes of wild fires. A ‘surface fire’ is the most common type, burning along the forest floor, moving slowly and killing or damaging trees. A ‘ground fire’, usually started by lightning, burns on or below the forest floor. ‘Crown fires’ spread rapidly by the wind, moving quickly by jumping along the treetops. Because 80% of forest fires are started by negligent human behavior, such as smoking in forested areas or improperly extinguishing campfires most are preventable.
The Public is urged to obey all burning regulations set in place by Public Safety Officials.
Before a Forest Fire:
- Keep lawns trimmed, leaves raked.
- Roof and rain gutters should be debris-free to prevent burning embers from a wildfire igniting your home.
- Compost or chip vegetative debris piles.
- Stack firewood at least 30′ away from structures.
- Store flammable materials, liquids and solvents in metal containers outside the home, at least 30′ away from structures and wooden fences.
- Make sure water sources, such as hydrants, ponds, swimming pools and wells are accessible for fire suppression.
- Check the spark arresters on your combustible engines in equipment, such as lawn mowers, ATVs, dirt bikes and chainsaws.
- Use fire resistant, protective roofing and materials like stone, brick and metal to protect your home.
- Install multi-pane windows, tempered safety glass or fireproof shutters to protect large windows from radiant heat.
- Have chimneys, wood stoves and all home heating systems inspected and cleaned annually by a certified specialist.
- Remove branches hanging above and around chimneys.
- Create at least a 10′ clearing around an incinerator before burning debris.
- Have a fire extinguisher or garden hose on hand when burning debris.
- Install freeze-proof exterior water outlets on at least two sides of the home and near other structures on the property. Install additional outlets at least 50 feet from the home.
- Consider obtaining a portable gasoline powered pump in case electrical power is cut off.
During a Forest Fire:
If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Take your disaster supply kit, lock your home and choose a route away from the fire hazard. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of the fire and smoke. Tell someone when you left and where you are going.
If you see a wildfire and haven’t received evacuation orders yet, call 9-1-1.
If you are not ordered to evacuate, and have time to prepare your home, FEMA recommends you take the following actions:
- Shut off gas at the meter and turn off pilot lights.
- Open fireplace damper, closing the fireplace screen.
- Close windows, vents, doors, blinds, or non-combustible window coverings and heavy drapes, removing flammable drapes and curtains.
- Move flammable furniture into the center of the home, away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
- Close all interior doors and windows to prevent drafts.
- Place valuables that will not be damaged by water into a pool or pond.
- Gather your pets into one room, making plans to care for your pets if you must evacuate. (See Evacuation)
- Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut doors and roll up windows. Leave the keys in the ignition and the car doors unlocked. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked.
- Disconnect automatic garage door openers.
- Place combustible patio/yard furniture indoors.
- Connect garden hose to outside taps. Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near aboveground fuel tanks. Wet your roof.
- Wet or remove shrubs within 15′ of the house.
- Gather fire-fighting tools such as a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket and shovel.
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
After a Forest Fire:
- Go to a designated public shelter if you have been told to evacuate.
- If you are with burn victims, or are a burn victim yourself, call 9-1-1 or seek help immediately; cool and cover burns to reduce chance of further injury or infection.
- If you remained at home, check the roof immediately after the fire danger has passed. Put out any roof fires, sparks or embers.
- If you have evacuated, do not enter your home until fire officials say it is safe.
- Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning.
- If you detect heat or smoke when entering a damaged building, evacuate immediately.
- If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to open it. It can hold intense heat for several hours.
- Avoid damaged or fallen power lines, poles and downed wires.
- Watch for ash pits and mark them for safety—warn family and neighbors to keep clear of the pits also.
- Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets’ paws or hooves.
- Follow public health guidance on safe cleanup of fire ash and safe use of masks.
- Wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles.
- Wear leather gloves and heavy soled shoes to protect hands and feet.
- Cleaning products, paint, batteries and damaged fuel containers need to be disposed of properly to avoid risk.
- Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
- Do NOT use water that you think may be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.
- Remain calm. Pace yourself. You may find yourself in the position of taking charge of other people. Listen carefully to what people are telling you, and deal patiently with urgent situations first.