FireWise – Prepare for Fire or Evacuation

Tom McMackin

On June 1, 2018, the seasonal burn ban went into effect for our region in Klickitat County. Hopefully, all those outside clean-ups and pruning sessions were managed successfully this Spring and the collected branches, duff and debris were disposed of ahead of that date… in an ideal World, I suppose that could happen for each of us. I find that there are still a few things I need to accomplish as the Summer season and its potential for fire peeks over the horizon for us here on High Prairie.  

If you, like me, have outside projects or last minute details to contend with… there are some simple things you can do to create defensible space around your house and other structures or sensitive areas. You can initiate or continue incorporating the Firewise 5’/30’/100’ protection zones concept to proactively prepare for a fire emergency.

How? Start with inspecting all roof areas of any structures. Clean any debris resting on the roof, in its valleys or other nooks or crannies. Coming down from the roof, clear gutters, put screening on vents and generally tidy up down to the ground at the foundation and 5’ outward from the foundation. This will make it difficult for fire running on the ground or embers drifting up with smoke or carried by the wind to get a toe-hold and kindle a new fire in immediate contact with your property. 

The next phase involves stepping back to survey areas that are within 30’ of property that needs protection. Taking care of this area will give first responders a fighting chance to put their skills and experience to work protecting your property safely and effectively.

Here’s a reminder link that speaks to being prepared for wild/forest fires: This has excellent information and at the bottom, under the ‘Home Ignition Zones’ tab, is an illustration of the protection zones concept.

What if that knock on your door comes at 2 AM for evacuation? What will you do? What can you do? Thinking through those ‘what ifs’ and preparing for that knock or message on your phone will transform the trauma of that moment into effective action. Gathering supplies, important documents & keepsakes, pet supplies or livestock needs with ‘Gotta go!’ as the driving force will be a first step. Identifying locations for these supplies and creating time-sensitive checklists of ‘what’ to get! and ‘where’ to get it! will give you effective goals to accomplish in order to leave with some peace of mind in the midst of the swirling chaos of an evacuation order.

This link offers “How to Prioritize an Evacuation List” – a recipe and one view of listing time and priority tasks for evacuation action.

Resources are available within the High Prairie Firewise Community and online to assist you with developing protection and evacuation plans!

Contact me if you’d like more information on the ‘Firewise’ and ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ programs, if you have comments or suggestions, or if you would like to be more involved with the High Prairie Firewise effort. I can answer questions and get you connected with the resources we have available as a recognized Firewise Community. Contact me by email at or by phone message by calling 509-365-2786.

Online resources: 

Firewise –  or

Ready, Set, Go! –  or

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