As we wrap up Wildfire Awareness Month, the Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office joins other fire agencies around the state in recognizing the importance of being prepared for wildfire season.

In 2020, more than 1,500 wildfires were reported in Washington State, burning over 823,000 acres according to the Northwest Coordination Center (NWCC).

Due to warmer and drier conditions, the National Interagency Fire Center predicts a significant potential for wildfires in Washington.

Earlier this week, Chelan County issued level 1 and 2 evacuations due to a brush fire that burned more than 200 acres.  While the cause of that brush fire is unknown, our State Fire Marshal’s Office has some good tips for you to prepare for the season:

  1. Clear fallen leaves, pine needles, branches, and other debris from roof valleys and gutters. Be sure to use extra caution when working on ladders.
  2. Remove any flammable materials on the ground around your home, deck, porch, or patio out to a minimum of 5 feet. This includes mulch, dead leaves or pine needles, shrubs or other plants, wood piles, and material for construction projects.
  3. Plants that are within 30 feet of your home should be well-watered and spaced to avoid fire moving from plant to plant. Also remove any dead vegetation on or around landscaping.
  4. Grass and weeds should be mowed to a height no more than 2 to 3 inches.
  5. When doing home improvements, use fire-resistant materials whenever possible.
  6. Attic and garage vents should be screened with 1/8-inch metal mesh material, or a fire resistive vent design should be used, to prevent ember penetration during the windy conditions of a wildfire.
  7. Work with neighbors to prepare your community. If one home within a neighborhood ignites, this presents a severe threat to the neighboring homes. Encourage all neighbors within a wildfire risk area to work together to reduce the community risk.

We encourage you to stay up to date and aware of the fire conditions near you.  If they worsen, you may be asked to leave and evacuate your homes at a moment’s notice.

These websites can help you keep track of wildfires:

Map of active USA Wildfires

ESRI US Wildfire Reports

Wildfire Risk to Communities

WA Department of Ecology Burn Bans

For urgent updates, you can follow your WSP District PIO’s on Twitter and our Washington State Fire Marshal Twitter account.  In addition, it’s helpful to follow your city and county social media accounts, including law enforcement agencies and fire departments.

If you find yourself having to evacuate, make sure you have the following:

  1. Prepare an evacuation plan, including alternate routes out of the area, and prepacked essentials including: medications, family records, credit cards, a change of clothing, and enough food and water for each household member for up to 72 hours.
  2. Create a family communication plan that designates an out-of-area friend or relative as a point of contact to be a single source of communication among family members in case of separation.
  3. Be aware of family, friends, or neighbors who have disabilities who require assistance and additional lead-time in order to prepare for a disaster.
  4. Remember to prepare a plan for pets and other animals.
  5. If there is a wildfire alert system available in your area, consider signing up to receive notifications.
  6. When told to evacuate, go promptly. If you feel unsafe, do not wait for an evacuation order -leave immediately. Do not return home until directed by emergency personnel.

If you ever see a wildfire, please call 911 or 800-562-6010.

For more information, contact the State Fire Marshal’s Office at (360) 596-3929.