Although the spring rain has returned, the unusually high temperatures we saw in the first half of May gave us a potential taste of what’s to come for the summer wildfire season. Unseasonably warm and dry conditions earlier this month have already led to more than 70 fires across Oregon, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry, prompting county-wide burn bans in several parts of the state.
In anticipation of the start of fire season, May is dedicated to wildfire prevention and preparedness. During Wildfire Awareness Month, homeowners – particularly those who live near forests in the wildland urban interface – are encouraged to take action now to get ready before fire strikes.
There are four key things homeowners can do to help defend their home against wildfire and keep their family safe:
-Roofs: Keep roofs, gutters and eaves clear of all leaves, pine needles and other flammable debris.
-Vegetation: Remove all dead vegetation for a minimum of 30 feet around the house and other structures. Prune trees and keep your grass short to keep fire on the ground. Maintain a five-foot fire-free area closest to the house using nonflammable landscaping material and fire-resistant plants.
-Access: For the safety of your home and firefighters who respond in an emergency, consider access for large fire trucks.
-Planning: Put together a “Go Kit,” register for emergency notification systems, and make a plan for where your family will go and how you will stay in contact in the event of an evacuation.
For more information about how to make your home, property and forestland fire-safe, check out these short, informational videos OFRI has produced:
There are also many additional resources to help Oregonians prepare for wildfire season, including:
With all signs indicating that we’re in for another intense fire season this year, it’s important for all Oregonians to do their part to help prevent wildfires.