Posted by LisaMarie Sinatra on 05/04/2015 at 10:53 AM in California, Community Action, Current Affairs, Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise, Homeowner Association, Mitigation, Nevada, News, NFPA, Oregon, Social Media, Success Stories, Utah, Wildfire Hazards, wildland firefighter, Wildland Urban Interface, Year of Living Less Dangerously | Permalink | Comments (2)
| | | | | | |
Because of the lower than normal snowfall in parts of southern and eastern Oregon, the fire potential, according to many officials, is very high. According to an article from the KGW TV station website in Portland, Oregon, Oregon Wildfire experts warn of driest season in 25 years, US Senator Ron Wyden (D- Ore); “They were looking at drought conditions that are the most significant in 25 years. I was in Lane County and the snow was about 10 percent of the typical amount. This looks like it's going to be a very difficult season and we're going to start mobilizing very early."
Oregon’s potential fire season is a threat to be taken seriously by homeowners and the local authorities having jurisdiction. Having worked with two fire jurisdictions and the NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division, I have seen first-hand how homeowners can make a difference both in the survivability of their home and fire fighter safety by implementing Firewise principles both to harden the home itself and by modifying the landscaping surrounding the home.
Homeowners can make changes that protect one of their biggest investments: their home. They can also take simple steps to create areas that are safer for fire fighters to work in. Now is the time to plan, act and embrace Firewise changes in order to have a Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire (#YLLDW), before the wildfire season begins.
There are free online classes, public education materials, and information to enable community members to work together to create resilient Firewise Communities by collaborating with local officials to assess their risks before this year’s fire season begins.
Posted by Faith Berry on 03/20/2015 at 02:02 PM in Environment, Oregon, Weather and Predictive Services, Wildfire Hazards, Wildland Urban Interface, Year of Living Less Dangerously | Permalink | Comments (0)
| | | | | | |
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be sharing 2014 highlights from the Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program. We applaud the dedication of the communities across the United States who prepare for wildfire and the focus they bring to preparedness.
Last year, 165 new communities achieved Firewise recognition from 25 different states. The combined volunteer and project work in 2014 for just these new communities to Firewise accounted for over $1.75 million in local preparedness, education and mitigation efforts.
With 27 new communities, Colorado saw the strongest growth in 2014. I asked Courtney Peterson, Wildfire Mitigation Education Coordinator and the State Firewise Liaison with the Colorado State Forest Service, what the value of Firewise is to the state.
Courtney shared with me that, “the Firewise Communities/USA® program is an excellent tool for bringing Colorado communities together. The program enables communities to take ownership in preparing their homes against the threat of wildfire while establishing networks and relationships with local partners.”
In addition to the top 5 growth states, we are equally impressed with the work of all of the new recognized communities, especially where that 1 community rose to the challenge and is now making a difference.
Posted by Lucian Deaton on 01/09/2015 at 05:41 PM in Arizona, California, Colorado, Community Action, Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise, Florida, Georgia, Mitigation, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Success Stories, Utah, Virginia, Wildfire Hazards, wildland firefighter, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
Technorati Tags: Arkansas Forestry Commission, Colorado State Forest Service, Fire Adapted Communities, Fire Safe Council, Firewise, Firewise Communities, Georgia Forestry Commission, mitigation, Oregon Department of Forestry, preparedness
| | | | | | |
A recent networking day hosted by Project Wildfire (the community organization in Deschutes County, OR that facilitates, educates, disseminates and maximizes community efforts toward effective fire planning and mitigation) connected Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) practitioners in a forum focused on a peer exchange opportunity.
The meeting was the first of its kind in the area and was aimed at building the local network and focused specifically on Firewise Communities/USA program participants; a similar meeting design could be applied to a broader FAC event in any community. Project Wildfire and their partners designed the meeting around a series of guiding questions that allowed participants to share their successes and challenges; building relationships and trust. Check out some of the insights FAC practitioners shared and consider how you might apply these lessons in your efforts.
When asked about how to encourage residents to take action, participants offered the following:
Participants shared memorable turning points when they began making progress toward their Firewise goals:
Creative outreach activities shared by participants included:
Participants reflected on how they could inspire action in the future:
These lessons and many more were shared by participants at the first Firewise networking day in Deschutes County. To learn more about the event, or for advice on hosting your own networking day, contact Alison Green at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our thanks to Michelle Medley-Daniel for submitting her article to the Fire Break Blog. Michelle is a member of the FAC Network Coordinating Team.
Posted by Cathy Prudhomme on 12/11/2014 at 11:46 AM in Community Action, Education, Environment, Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise, Oregon, Success Stories, Wildfire Hazards, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
| | | | | | |
With the leaves slowly turning orange, ballet flats being replaced with riding boots and pumpkin spice lattes warming up everyone’s hands, there’s no denying it’s the beginning of fall. And what better state to experience it all than Oregon—the state with fall weather almost throughout the entire year—to highlight for this week’s Firewise blogpost.
Rimrock West, a subdivision in the Deschutes River canyon was densely packed with juniper and pine and entwined with thick brush and grass, which wouldn’t have been a major concern if not for the flammability of the vegetation and its close proximity to houses in the community. Around 40 homes sit on narrow roads with only one access road—which makes a quick evacuation for all the residents during a potential wildfire nearly impossible.
Every year, property owners tried to reduce the fire risk by raking up dead and dry plants. But these efforts alone would not be enough to save their homes in the event of a wildfire. So Oregon’s Department of Forestry (ODF), Bend Fire and Rescue and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducted a fire safety assessment and were able to list all the potential risks.
Most of Rimrock West’s houses were built over 30 years ago when they were required to have wood shake roofs. These wood roofs are most vulnerable during a wildfire because of flying embers from the flammable overgrown brush and vegetation. The residents were quick to find a solution for this. With the help of the Firewise Communities/USA Program tips, they cleared up their yards to help interrupt the fuel pathways from the brush to their homes, and pruned all low hanging limbs from trees.
And now, at least 91 percent of Rimrock West's resident homes meet Firewise standards.
For all their hard work, the community received their Firewise Community status and a National Fire Plan $5,000 matching grant.
Read more about Rimrock West’s efforts on the Firewise stories page.
In addition, there are other communities in Oregon that really worked tirelessly to earn Firewise status. Read all about their efforts! The communities are:
| | | | | | |
Last week, Keep Oregon Green and the Oregon Department of Forestry brought Mike Riley, Oregon State University Head Football Coach and Mark Helfrich, University of Oregon Head Football Coach together to tackle wildfires.
The three, 30 second, PSA’s remind Oregon residents about the value of defensible space, the risks of backyard debris burning in piles and burn barrels, and guidance for effective camp fire safety.
Along with the PSA’s, Smokey Bear came out for ESPN’s College Game Day broadcast from Eugene, OR, at last weekend's Michigan State Spartans vs. Oregon Ducks game. You’ll see Smokey Bear 50 seconds into the highlight video from GoDucks.com.
I caught up with Kristin Babbs - President / CEO of Keep Oregon Green, who shared that human caused fires on the rise in Oregon this year and that the memories are still fresh from the state’s difficult 2013 fire season. She explained that both coaches immediately saw the great value in advancing the preparedness and Firewise message. The toughest part was just lining up their full schedules to make it work.
The PSA’s were filmed in June, have been shown during games and shared by the Oregonian newspaper’s oregonlive.com within their wildfire articles.
Kristin noted that a billboard campaign highlighting the head coaches’ message on the highways leading up to both stadiums is being considered.
Here at Firewise, we applaud the work of Keep Oregon Green and Oregon Department of Forestry for this great preparedness outreach. We also thank Head Coach Riley and Head Coach Helfrich for coming together to remind Oregon residents that they all can tackle wildfires together.
Technorati Tags: barrel burning, camp fires, debris burning, defensible space, ESPN College Gameday, Firewise, Keep Oregon Green, Mark Helfrich, Mike Riley, Oregon Beavers, Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State University, Smokey Bear, University of Oregon
| | | | | | |
I try and set aside a few minutes each Friday to read trade articles and email that’s piled up during the week, and when I got to that place on my calendar today a piece from a colleague was calling my name. That article was from authors Rachel Cleetus and Kranti Mulak with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Their recently released report, “Playing with Fire – How Climate Change and Development Patterns are Contributing to the Soaring Costs of Western Wildfires” was screaming for me to open it. The report strives to explain why western wildfires are worsening; why current policies and practices may be increasing risks and costs; and the impacts and recommendations on limiting costs. It also includes case studies from California, Colorado, Montana and New Mexico; and the issues occurring in those states.
They outline steps that need to be taken that include: building resilience in communities on the frontlines of risk, reducing the expansion of development near fire-prone areas and cutting the emissions fueling climate change; all of which will be crucial to limiting the impacts of wildfires on people and forests.
There's also a lot of great data, maps, photos and charts that you'll virtually dog-ear to include in future PowerPoints. So when you’re carving out time for some work related reading, add this one to your list!
Oregon and Washington have seen their share of wildfire activity this past month. News reports say that a combined 940,000 acres in both states have burned to date. Fire officials point to lightning as the cause of several of the large fires. Northwest Interagency Coordination Center spokeswoman, Carol Connolly, said this morning that 3,000 lightning strikes were reported in Oregon as storms moved from Northern California into southern Oregon and points north. These same storms, according to California news reports, created more than 20,000 lightning strikes across much of that state, including dozens in the Bay Area of San Francisco.
Living in the Northeast, I tend to associate lightning with heavy rain storms. So while California and much of the Pacific Northwest is experiencing severe drought conditions and high temperatures, I started wondering, how do these storms produce enough lightning to ignite wildfires while at the same time, not produce enough rain to end the drought?
After reading a few news reports, I think I found my answer. Brenda Belongie, a meteorologist with the U.S. Forest Service explains it this way: “Lightning can hit a tree and just hang out, particularly after rain. It can smolder for several weeks. Think of a long, slow, glowing ember. Then, when it warms up and dries, a fire emerges.”
The Forest Service says lightning is the leading cause of wildfires in California, and as I mentioned above, lightning is the source of many of the large fires in Oregon and Washington. With more thunderstorms in the forecast for the Pacific Northwest, fire officials are worried about the potential for additional flare ups.
So while there are things we can do to reduce the number of “human-caused” wildfires, what can we humans do about lightning-caused fires? The U.S. Forest Service says that firefighters are using aircraft to monitor sites identified by our country’s “lightning detection system” which, through radio signals, can report a lightning strike within 15 seconds. The idea is to identify and extinguish as quickly as possible any fires ignited by these lighting strikes.
As for us homeowners, while we can’t stop lightning from hitting trees in our forests or rush to extinguish the fire after they've been hit, we can do something to reduce the amount of damage it can cause to our homes and property. Start by working around your yard, getting rid of dead and downed debris, cleaning out gutters and limbing trees. Creating defensible space, as this technique is called, is a great way to keep wind-blown wildfire embers from sparking a fire on your home or in your yard. You can find specific information about defensible space on our Firewise web page.
And it might be good to note that with all of these lightning strikes happening around our communities, we need to exercise caution to keep our own selves safe. NFPA has produced a great tips sheet and video, which provide important information to help you and your family stay safe during a storm. Take a look today and share this information with friends and neighbors. You (and they) will be glad you did!
Photo courtesy of Wildfire Today blog
Posted by LisaMarie Sinatra on 07/23/2014 at 03:09 PM in California, Current Affairs, Environment, Firewise, Mitigation, News, NFPA, Oregon, Weather and Predictive Services, Wildfire Hazards, wildland firefighter, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
| | | | | | |
A number of wildfires that have spread across Nevada, Washington and Oregon have prompted the governors of two of these states to declare states of emergency and calls for evacuation for hundreds of homes, according to news reports. As we previously have reported, high temperatures and continued drought conditions are to blame for the rash of fires, which, according to officials, are spreading rapidly across sections of these states.
USA Today reports that in Washington, The Chiwaukum Creek Fire has burned more than 1,200 acres and nearly 400 people have been told to evacuate, while another 800 homes are threatened. The Mills Canyon Fire has now burned more than 20,000 acres, but the good news there is, it is now 40 percent contained. To date, a state of emergency has been issued for 20 counties in the eastern part of the state.
In Oregon, Governor John Kitzhaber has declared a state of emergency … officials there report 13 fires are burning. The Buzzard Complex of fires in the eastern part of the state, according to the USA report, is nearly 90,000 acres, and the Bailey Butte Fire and two other fires have burned a combined 6,000 acres.
Both Nevada and California are also seeing their share of wildfire activity with a fire near Carson City burning 150 acres, and the Bully Fire in Shasta County, California, while it has burned more than 10,000 acres, thankfully is about 40 percent contained.
For those living in states with a high wildfire risk, NFPA has a handful of great resources to help you prepare ahead of a fire and information about what to do when a wildfire is burning in your area, tips on emergency/evacuation planning, putting together an emergency kit and so much more.
Take a look at our wildfire web pages where you can download tip sheets and checklists, view our map that shows where wildfires are in relation to your community, and read stories about homeowners like you, who are working together to create safer neighborhoods and reduce their risk of wildfire damage.
But with so many resources available, it can sometimes be confusing to know where to start. Take a look at some of the resources I mention above. Then, if you've got questions and need more information about your role in wildfire preparedness and how you can work together with your neighbors, contact the Firewise staff, or check out the Firewise and Fire Adapted Communities websites. We’re here to help in any way we can, and provide the guidance you need to get you started on the path to wildfire safety, today.
Posted by LisaMarie Sinatra on 07/17/2014 at 10:21 AM in California, Community Action, Current Affairs, Environment, Evacuation Planning, Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise, Mitigation, Nevada, NFPA, Oregon, Success Stories, Weather and Predictive Services, Wildfire Hazards, wildland firefighter | Permalink | Comments (0)
| | | | | | |
A wildfire burning near the Moccasin Hill neighborhood in southern Oregon has officials there worried about its increasing size due to the high winds and extremely dry conditions. News reports state that more than 100 people have been evacuated from homes in the area but thankfully, no word of any injuries.
According to InciWeb, The Moccasin Hill Fire is roughly 2,000 acres and has destroyed six homes and another 14 buildings. There has been no sign of lightning so officials are now investigating the cause.
In other news, the White River Fire has burned nearly 570 acres in the White River Canyon, about 12 miles west of Tygh Valley. No structures there are threatened. As White River Canyon is designated a wilderness, it is steep and very hazardous, according to officials. Hotshot crews are working inside the canyon to construct a fireline among other tactics to keep the fire at bay.
Gusty winds from thunderstorms today and tonight along with hot and dry conditions are causes for concern for those fighting the fires.
Photo credit: AP
Posted by LisaMarie Sinatra on 07/14/2014 at 04:30 PM in Current Affairs, Evacuation Planning, Firewise, Mitigation, Oregon, Weather and Predictive Services, Wildfire Hazards, wildland firefighter, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
| | | | | | |