The Saratoga Sun -

Be prepared for wildfire presence


Staff Report

While 2013 fire season predictions are expected to be normal for Wyoming, according the to the Wyoming State Forestry Division, residents need to always prepare homes, property and outdoor recreation activities against the threat of wildfire.

According to the Wyoming State Forestry Division, last year’s severe drought conditions resulted in above average wild land fire activity across the state, and nearly everyone from landowners, outdoor recreationists and tourists felt the impact. Typically average fire season for Wyoming is July and August.

To prepare and reduce risks before wildfires strike whether one lives full-time in an urban forest interface or they have a cabin getaway, a weekend cleanup project can protect family and property. It should be made a habit to gather family and friends and make the cleanup a yearly event. Wildfire does not burn everything is its path, but cleaning property of debris and maintaining cleanup efforts are important steps to help minimize damage and loss.

Maintenance methods for wildfire prevention:

Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.

Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire. If it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity.

Remove fuel within 3-5 feet of your home’s foundation and out buildings including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.

Remove dead vegetation surrounding your home, within the 30-100 foot area.

Wildfire can spread to tree tops. If you have large trees on your property, prune so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet high.

Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.

When planting, choose slow-growing, carefully placed shrubs and trees so the area can be more easily maintained.

Landscape with native and less-flammable plants. Your state forestry agency or county extension office can provide plant information.

Check your screen constructed of non-flammable material over the flue opening of every chimney or stovepipe. Mesh openings of the screen should not exceed 1/2 inch.

Dispose of stove or fireplace ashes and charcoal briquettes only after soaking them in a metal pail of water.

Obey outdoor burning bans. Don’t burn trash or debris when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush, household trash and other debris is an main cause of wildfires.

Avoid parking and idling in dry grass. Catalytic converters can get hot enough to ignite the grass.

Store gasoline in an approved safety can away from occupied buildings.

Propane tanks should be far enough away from buildings for valves to be shut off in case of fire. Keep area clear of flammable vegetation.

All combustibles such as firewood, picnic tables, boats, etc. should be kept away from structures.

Garden hoses should be connected to outlet.

Address numbers or lot numbers should be clear of all debris so numbers are visible.

All roads and driveways should be at least 16 feet in width. Remember if emergency response can’t get in, your structure and persons needing medical services are at risk.

Have fire tools handy such as: ladder long enough to reach the roof, shovel, rake and bucket for water.

Each home should have at least two different entrance and exit routes.

Pay attention to fire restrictions in your area.

Before going hiking or camping, check for fire restrictions or area closures.

Plan ahead and prepare—know your route, sign in at the trailhead, let someone else know where you are going and be sure to know how to get out!

If you use a campfire, make sure it is fully extinguished before leaving the area – be sure it is cold to the touch.

If you are using a portable stove, make sure the area is clear of grasses and other fine fuels. Prevent stoves from tipping and starting a fire.

Consider alternatives to campfires during periods of high fire danger.

Practice Leave No Trace principles—pack out cigarette butts and burned materials from your camping area.

Be aware of sudden changes in the weather or changing weather conditions. For example, if you see a thunderstorm approaching, consider leaving the area.

If you see smoke, fire, or suspicious activities, note the location as best you can and report it to authorities. Do NOT attempt to contact suspicious people or try to put out a fire by yourself

Be careful of parking or driving your car or ATV in tall, dry, vegetation, such as grass. The hot underside of the vehicle may start a fire.


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