May 3, 2012
King County urges community preparation during Wildfire Awareness Week, May 6-12
Wildfire Awareness Week is May 6-12, and King County’s Forestry Program is working with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and area fire districts to help communities take steps to keep safe in the event of wildfire.
“Wildfire has always played an important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, and western Washington experiences thousands of small wildfires in most years that are put out before they threaten homes,” said King County forester Kristi McClelland.
As people build homes in the forest, they find themselves in proximity to possible wildfires. Firefighters do not have the resources to defend every home during a wildfire. Personal responsibility is the key to being ready for emergencies.
The County’s Forestry Program is helping residents in rural forested areas take simple steps to protect their families, homes and property in case of wildfire.
For example, by using fire resistant building materials and spacing trees and shrubs correctly within 30 to 100 feet of structures, residents can create defensible space around the home. This reduces the risk that homes will be ignited and destroyed during a wildfire.
The County’s Forestry Program offers free assistance in creating neighborhood wildfire safety plans. Modeled after the national Firewise program, such plans are the first step in preventing the loss of lives, property and resources to wildfire, while encouraging forest stewardship among landowners.
King County’s first nationally recognized “Firewise Community” was the Tolt River Highlands, near Carnation. Communities near Duvall, Fall City, North Bend, Maple Valley, Black Diamond, Enumclaw and Covington are currently taking steps to make their homes and property more resistant to wildfire with Firewise activities.
Free technical assistance for identifying and mitigating wildfire risk is available for King County residents. Contact the Forestry Program at 206-296-8042 or visit http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/waterandland/forestry/forestfire.aspx.
Forestry services and information
King County Water and Land Resources