Before, During and After a Wildfire

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What to do BEFORE a wildland fire:

  • Create defensible space to separate your home from flammable vegetation and materials (minimum 100ft PRC 4291).
  • Adhere to all local fire and building codes and weed abatement ordinances.
  • Keep all trees and shrub limbs trimmed so they do not come into contact with electrical wires or overhang your chimney. (Do not trim around live power lines yourself, call a professional).
  • Prune all lower branches 8 feet from the ground.
  • Keep trees adjacent to buildings free of dead or dying branches.
  • Stack firewood away from your home and other buildings. (Keep clearance around your piles).
  • Keep roof surfaces clear of pine needles, leaves and debris at all times.
  • Install spark arresters for each chimney (PRC 4291).
  • Clean chimneys and check and maintain spark arresters twice a year.
  • Keep rain gutters clear of debris at all times.
  • Use approved fire resistant materials when building, renovating or retrofitting structures.
  • Install electrical lines underground if possible.
  • Be sure your house numbers show clearly from the street, both day and night.
  • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved containers.
  • Store all important papers in a fireproof container or keep copies at another location.
  • Make evacuation plans with family members. Include several options with an outside meeting place and contact person. Practice regularly.
  • Keep battery operated radios and flashlights with additional fresh batteries on hand.

What to do DURING a wildland fire:

  • Turn on a battery operated radio to get latest emergency information.
  • If you have a ladder, prop it against the house so you and firefighters have access to roof.
  • If hoses and adequate water are available set them up. Fill buckets with water.
  • Remove combustible materials from the area surrounding your house. (Lawnchairs, tables, etc.)
  • Turn a light on in each room for visibility in case of smoke.
  • Close all doors and windows, but do not lock them.
  • Open or take down flammable drape and curtains.
  • Close all venetian blinds and non-flammable window coverings.
  • Move upholstered furniture away from windows and sliding glass doors.
  • Be ready to evacuate all family members and pets when requested to do so.
  • Turn off air conditioning/air circulation systems.
  • Detach electrical garage doors. Back in your car and leave the keys in the ignition.
  • Secure your pets if possible.

What to do AFTER a wildland fire:

  • Check with fire officials before attempting to return to your home.
  • Use caution when re-entering a burned area - flare-ups can occur.
  • Check grounds for hot spots smoldering stumps and vegetation. Use your buckets of water.
  • Check the roof and exterior areas for sparks and embers.
  • Check the attic and throughout the house for hidden burning sparks and embers.
  • Continue to check for problem areas for several days.
  • Contact 911 if any danger is perceived.
  • If burning outside your home was extensive, watch for soil erosion.
  • Consult local experts on the best way to restore and replant your land with fire safe landscaping.

More information on wildfire preparedness: