The governors of eleven western states have signed a proclamation recognizing May 2019 as Wildfire Awareness Month. The chief executives of Oregon, Washington, Nevada, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota encourage all citizens to “take steps to better prepare their home and communities for wildfires and work toward becoming a fire-adapted community.” These states, in partnership with federal, state and local fire prevention agencies and organizations, are working together to increase awareness of wildfires with programs, public service announcements, and opportunities for people to participate in community fire prevention projects.
At stake: lives, property, forests
When it comes to preventing wildfires, there’s a lot at stake – lives, personal property, and the many values provided by Oregon’s forests and rangelands. During the 2018 wildfire season, Oregonians were responsible for starting 1,330 wildfires that consumed over 329,000 acres.
”It’s incredibly important that all Oregonians work with their neighbors to plan and prepare for fire season now, “ said Kristin Babbs, president of the Keep Oregon Green Association. “Educating yourself about how fires can get started will be key in reducing accidental wildfire ignitions this summer.”
Wildfires can start at home
Wildfires in the wildland-urban interface are often started by human activity, such as debris burning or lawn mowing, and then spread to the forest. Once underway, a fire follows the fuel, whether it is trees or houses.
“Simple and inexpensive prevention strategies can make your home, family and community much safer,” Babbs said. “Spring is the perfect time to remove dead, flammable vegetation and limb up trees around the yard.”
To get an early start on Wildfire Awareness Month, join your neighbors in reducing your community’s wildfire risk by taking part in National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on Saturday, May 4. The National Fire Protection Association has teamed up with State Farm Insurance to encourage residents to commit a couple of hours, or the entire day, to raising wildfire awareness and working on projects that can protect homes and entire communities from the threat of fire.
Coming soon: More Wildfire Awareness Month tips
During May, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal, the Office of Emergency Management, Keep Oregon Green, the US Forest Service, and other federal, state and local emergency and response agencies will be promoting programs and messages encouraging the public to work together in their local communities to prevent the risk of wildfire.