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Wildfire Preparedness

As more and more large and destructive wildfires are reported in the headlines each year, wildfire is becoming top of mind to many San Juan County residents. Could the same thing happen here? While we are fortunate to have low fire danger most of the year, our warmer, drier, and longer summers can be cause for concern. Did you know that while wildfire is a natural process within our ecosystem, the devastation it can bring to our homes and infrastructure is largely preventable?

 

We are committed to collaborating with landowners to assess wildfire risk for their properties and providing technical assistance, resources, and connections to funding to help create a fire-resilient San Juan County. 

Get Involved

There are several ways to get involved with wildfire preparedness in San Juan County. Individuals can consider the Wildfire Ready Neighbors Program, neighborhoods and Home Owners' Associations can consider Firewise USA®, and we all can contribute as the county embarks on updating our Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

Wildfire Ready NeighborsSign up for this free program and you will receive a Wildfire Ready Plan to help you prioritize Wildfire Ready actions on your property. You will have the option to receive an on-site consultation with local wildfire experts on your property. You can choose to have them perform a Wildfire Ready Home Visit that focuses on the home itself and 100' out from the home, or a forest health assessment that focuses on the forest surrounding your home outside of 100'. We have partnered with local fire districts, outer island fire brigades, San Juan County, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to offer this program to residents and landowners of San Juan County.

Firewise. As a community, you and your neighbors can join the Firewise USA® recognition program. This program provides a collaborative framework to help neighbors in a geographic area get organized, find direction, and take action to increase the ignition resistance of their homes and community and to reduce wildfire risks at the local level. Click here to learn more about Firewise in San Juan County

Community Wildfire Protection Plan. San Juan County is in the process of updating its 2012 CWPP. This process will include opportunities for community input through public meetings and public comment from Fall 2024 - Spring 2025.   To learn more about the CWPP update please contact Paul Andersson at paul@sjicd.org.  

 

Focus on Your Home

Most homes that burn during wildfires are ignited by flying embers landing on combustible material on or near homes. While a wildfire passes by a home quickly, usually in a few minutes, the exposure to flying embers can last for an hour or more. Therefore, actions homeowners take to make their home less ignitable from embers do the most to ensure its survival. Use the checklist on the right to increase the chances that your home will survive a wildfire. Feeling overwhelmed? Use this Own Your Zone handout to help prioritize potential work.

 

For existing homes, create defensible space around the property by clearing flammable vegetation and maintaining landscaping. With new construction, incorporate fire-resistant materials like non-combustible roofing, fencing, and siding. Both retrofitted homes and new homes should have features that prevent ember intrusion, such as 1/8" or finer metal mesh on vents. By taking these steps, you can significantly improve your home's chance of surviving a wildfire and protect yourself and your community. Check out these resources for more details:

  • Safer from the Start (NFPA Firewise) – This guide has valuable principles that target the pre- development phase.

  • Sustainable Defensible Space - Materials and installation information for new house features (roofs, gutters, vents, decks, etc.). Select each tab for each component of the house. 

  • Fire-Resistant Plants For Home Landscapes - Although any plant can burn under the right conditions, keeping a 5' non-combustible zone around structures and planting with fire-resistant plants outside the 5' immediate zone can help reduce risk. 

  • Wildfire Home Retrofit Guide - The guide is designed for retrofits, but provides guidance on fire-resistant features of a home at any stage. 

Videos

Additional Resources

To learn more about Wildfire Preparedness, contact Cathi Winings at cathi@sjicd.org

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More Information

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What is Technical Assistance?  Click here!

What are the ten ways SJICD can help you?  Click here!

This project is supported with funding from Washington's Climate Commitment Act. The CCA puts cap-and-invest dollars to work reducing climate pollution, creating jobs, and improving public health. Information about the CCA is available at ww.climate.wa.gov. 

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