wildfire safety

On Your Mark, Get Set And Go, But Not Quite Yet.

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It is that time of the year for outdoor activities, limited though they may be due to COVID-19 precautions. Our weather has cooperated by giving us a reasonable amount of rainfall to keep the threat of wildfires relatively low so far. We can’t be complacent about the wildfire danger any more than we can be complacent about the spread of the Pandemic.

The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center (NWCC) is the geographic coordination center for the Northwest Region which includes the states of Oregon and Washington. Located in Portland,OR, then NWCC serves as the focal point for interagency, coordination, logistics support, aviation support and predictive services for all state and federal agencies involved in wildfire management and suppression in the region. Cooperating agencies include the : Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service.” (NWCC website)

WIldfire Map
Northwest Interagency (NWCC) Large Wildfire Map 07.11.20 | Image by NWCC

The NWCC Large Wildfire Map shows any large wildfires in the states of Washington and Oregon. As you can see on the above map, so far, there is only one large wildfire in Oregon. Here are the details on that fire.

The Mile Post 91 fire: Located 15 miles northeast of Warm Springs, Oregon. The number of acres involved is 787 The fuel/terrain is grass and brush. It started on 7.09.20 and the cause is not listed. Residences threatened: 0 single residences, Other structures threatened: 0 nonresidential commercial property. Resources being used: 0 people, 0 crew, 0 helicopters, and 0 engines. The fire is 75% contained. The lead agency listed is USDI Bureau of Indian Affairs.

What can you do to help prevent wildfires? The National Weather Service has the following guidelines to help us out.

Wildfire Safety
Wildfire Safety Tips | Image by weather.gov through Port Jeffers Village

We should also remember the COVID-19 precautions concerning wearing a face covering particularly when we can’t self-distance at least six feet away from others even when camping or picnicking outside. With the abundance of trees and foliage throughout Oregon it is advisable to take care of your own property to help prevent a wildfire from visiting your home. The hills surrounding the Eugene-Springfield area are vulnerable to wildfires which could spread through neighborhoods rapidly.

Defensible Space Diagram | Image by lavernefire.org

The authorities give specific information about what is called a “Defensible Space” around your property. It consists of clearing flammable materials away from your home. The zones are set up in such a way to better protect your home from burning embers of a nearby fire that could follow vegetation or other flammable materials straight to your house.

Fire Escape Plan
Home Fire Escape Plan Animation| Image by wa.gov.au

In addition to these measures everyone should have an evacuation plan in the event your house catches on fire. Practice how you would escape if different escape routes might be blocked. Also, you should have a place outside away from the house where all of your family members can meet to make sure everyone is safely out of the house. You should also be prepared for other events such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods by having evacuation plans for each and a contact person outside of the area who you could call and notify other relatives that you are OK. Physically having drills will make it easier to know what to do in the emergency. Muscle memory can take over if you are in panic mode.

As the wildfire season continues I will use this column to let you know where the wildfires are and how they are being fought.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].