Facts About Wildfires

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August is Wildfire Awareness Month. Wildland fires are a serious threat to lives and property in the U.S. The combination of drought, warmer temperatures, high winds and an excess of dried vegetation in forests and grasslands have made fire seasons progressively worse over the past 50 years.  In the last decade, wildfires have burned over 80 million acres of these lands. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), 2015 saw one of the worst fire seasons in decades, with over 10 million acres burned. Here are the facts about wildfires.

Facts about wildfires

According to the NIFC, 2015 saw more than 68,000 wildfires burn over 10 million acres. The U.S. Forest Service reports that 2015 was also the most expensive wildfire season on record, costing $1.71 billion for the year. This total surpasses the previous record of $1.67 billion. The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) cites more than 72,000 U.S. communities are at risk from wildfires. Please take note: 72.000 communities are at risk from wilfires. It is important to know what to do before the threat arises.

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Being prepared before the threat of a wildland fire is the first step to a positive outcome

Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating. Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane tanks) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch. Wildfire can spread to tree tops. Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground. Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire. Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire. Inspect shingles or roof tiles. Replace or repair those that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration. Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home. Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screens with metal mesh to prevent ember entry.

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During the time a wildland fire is in your area

Place your bug out bag and other valuables in your vehicle. Move patio or deck furniture, cushions, doormats and potted plants in wooden containers either indoors or as far away from the home, shed or garage as possible. Close and protect your home’s openings, including attic and basement doors and vents, windows, garage doors and pet doors to prevent embers from penetrating your home. Connect garden hoses and fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs, or other large containers with water. Firefighters have been known to use the hoses to put out fires on rooftops. Leave as early as possible, before you’re told to evacuate. Do not linger once evacuation orders have been given. Promptly leaving your home and neighborhood, clears roads for firefighters to get equipment in place to fight the fire, and helps ensure residents’ safety. Evacuating as soon is possible can be the difference between your escape or being trapped by the wildfire.

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