Hidden Valley Meadows Vista is the state of Washington’s 100th Firewise Community! This was such an honor for me to attend this event, with so many individuals that should be congratulated over the past decade for their efforts to achieve this milestone. Washington now has 100 of the 900 national Firewise communities in 40 participating states. Many years ago, Washington fire agencies and residents saw a need for the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program in their state and took action. The Hidden Valley Meadows Vista Community was the product of residents, the Kittitas County Conservation District, Washington Department of Natural Resources and the local Fire Department collaborating with passion, motivation, volunteer hours and some cost share assistance.
Last August the Hidden Valley Meadows Vista Community of Cle Elum, Washington endured the catastrophic Taylor Bridge Fire that burned over 36 square miles and destroyed 61 homes. Homeowner Carolyn Bergland looks at the now lush green hills around her home where her property was spared from last summer’s wildfire due to taking action before the fire, creating defensible space so a grass fire could not reach her home in addition to building their home with a fire resistant roof material to prevent ember ignition.
Carolyn, the local Firewise sparkplug understands that wildfire will always be a part of the landscape and also knows that wildfires have benefits for the ecosystem. Creating fire resilient landscapes, effective wildland fuel mitigation efforts, evacuation preparedness, safe emergency personnel response and fire control as well as creating Fire Adapted Communities will be the answer to those who want to live compatibly with wildfire without becoming a victim. Participating in NFPA’s Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program, Fire Adapted Communities and the International Association of Fire Chiefs' Ready, Set, Go! Program will greatly improve the odds of a homeowner staying safer from wildfire by taking action before smoke is on the horizon.
The state of Washington’s fire agencies and conservation districts are nationally recognized for empowering their residents to take the steps necessary to prepare their communities for wildfire through this Firewise accomplishment.
(Photo: Fire Chief Russ Hobbs and Firewise sparkplug and host, Carolyn Berglund)