State fire marshal urges caution, preparation for upcoming wildfire season

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As summer begins the risk for potential wildfires increases, the Washington state fire marshal’s office urges citizens to educate themselves and prepare their properties now in order to reduce the chance of human and property damage.

Last year was one of the worst wildfire years in recent memory, not only for the state, but for the entire West Coast. Statistics from the Northwest Coordination Center (NWCC) showed more than 1,500 reported wildfires last year, which torched through more than 823,000 acres of land.

That report estimated that 95 percent of those wildfires were started due to human factors.

In a media release, the state fire marshal’s office cited warnings from the national interagency fire center that predict “a significant potential for wildfires in Washington again this year, due to warmer and dryer conditions anticipated throughout the spring and summer.”

The office urged people to be cautious before starting outdoor fires, and to always check burning restrictions.

To protect one’s property during wildfire season, residents should clear all fallen leaves, branches and any flammable materials from their rooftops, gutters and porches. They should also keep a minimum of five feet of clearance between all debris and property.

The fire marshal’s office also asks Washingtonians to create an evacuation plan in order to be prepared to evacuate “at a moment’s notice.” It advised creating an evacuation plan, along with prepacked essentials like medications, crucial records and documents, a change of clothing, and enough food and water for each household member for up to 72 hours.

For more information about wildfire safety and preparation, contact the fire marshal’s office at 360/596-3929, or via email at firemarsh@wsp.wa.gov.

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