May is Oregon Wildfire Awareness Month! Please be mindful of the growing potential for wildfires and follow basic fire safety rules and precautions. The heaviest activity is in the summer, but fires occur all seasons of the year including spring. During May, state, local and federal fire agencies will be spreading the word about wildfire prevention and the steps Oregonians can take to stop most fires before they start.
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. In 2013, three firefighters died battling Oregon wildfires. Timber losses totaled about $370 million, and the fires decimated key fish and wildlife habitats. Homes and outbuildings were destroyed as well.
Wildfires can start at home
Wildfires that occur in the wildland-urban interface often are started by human activity and then spread to the forest. Once underway a fire follows the fuel, whether it is trees or houses.
“Simple prevention strategies will make the strongest impact in keeping your home, family and community safe,” said Kristin Babbs, president of the Keep Oregon Green Association.
Spring is the perfect time, she said, to remove dead flammable vegetation and limb up trees around the backyard.
To get an early start on Wildfire Awareness Month, join your neighbors and reduce your community wildfire risk by taking part in National Wildfire Community Preparedness Dayon Saturday, May 3. 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 help raise wildfire awareness and work together on projects that can help protect homes and entire communities from the threat of wildfire.
“Thousands of Oregonian’s lives and homes can be put at risk when a wildfire strikes,” reminds Interim Oregon State Fire Marshal Jim Walker. “I encourage everyone to prepare their home and the area around their home before wildfire season begins by checking the websites for Keep Oregon Green and the Oregon Dept. Of Forestry.”
Coming soon: More Wildfire Awareness Month tips
During May, Keep Oregon Green will promote fire prevention messages on:
- defensible space and fire-resistant plants
- backyard debris burning
- campfire safety
- vehicle exhaust system checks, and final preparations for fire season