With its forests and dense vegetation, Western Washington is beautiful. To take advantage of this natural beauty and the recreational opportunities that come with it, people are moving farther into "natural" areas. Developers are building neighborhoods to accommodate the influx, and as a result, fire departments are fighting fires along the Wildland-Urban Interface, or WUI.
The WUI is defined as areas where homes are built near or among lands prone to wildland fire. In 2017, Rochester experienced a catastrophic wildland fire at Scatter Creek that Thurston County had not experienced previously in a WUI. The Scatter Creek Brush Fire burned over 150 acres and Level 3 evacuations were ordered for 100 homes. Thankfully, first responders were able to evacuate the citizens and no human lives were lost.
It's not a question of if, but when, the next major wildland fire will occur. Fire season is upon us early this year, and Western Washington's wildfire risk is projected to be high for the next several months.
Training and education is available now on how to make your home and neighborhood a more "defensible" space. Thurston County Emergency Management created a condensed FREE training for neighborhoods and communities based on the two-day Firewise training which includes the 'Ready, Set, Go!' action steps and what it means to create defensible space for your home and neighborhood.
Handouts include the personal Wildland Fire Action Plan and are available for download at www.co.thurston.wa.us/em/firewise. If your neighborhood or community group is interested in the training (about 30 – 60 minutes,) please contact Vivian Eason, Emergency Management Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, Emergency Management received a grant to provide Firewise training to first responders, citizens, planning department staff and others who are interested in learning about fire behavior and defensible space. If you are interested in attending the two-day training October 2 - 3, please contact Sonya Kroese, Emergency Management Coordinator, at email@example.com
Studies show as many as 80 percent of the homes lost to wildland fires could have been saved if their owners had followed simple fire-safe practices. In addition, wildland fire related deaths occur because people wait too long to leave their homes.