SEATTLE, May 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Though a wet winter may delay the threat of wildfire in the Northwest this year, PEMCO Insurance urges residents to take steps now to protect their homes from the risk of fire and do their part to reduce human-caused wildland fires.
According to data from the U.S. Fire Service, about 83 percent of wildfires in Oregon and Washington were ignited by humans in 2016, burning more than 435,000 acres across the Northwest. As many as 90 percent of wildfires are caused by humans nationally.
The data show that significantly fewer wildfires are started by natural causes – like lightning strikes – but those fires can have more severe consequences because they often begin in remote areas that are more difficult to reach with firefighting resources.
"Everyone suffers when wildfires affect our communities, and it's up to each of us to take important steps to protect our properties and make smart decisions to reduce the chance that our actions could ignite a wildfire," said Derek Wing, PEMCO spokesperson.
For residents planning to enjoy the great outdoors this wildfire season, PEMCO recommends heeding several important tips to reduce the risk of sparking an uncontrolled fire:
- For campers, make sure campfires are lit a safe distance from tents or other flammable supplies.
- Contain campfires by using designated fire pits or use rocks to create a ring around your campfire.
- To extinguish a campfire, pour water on the fire, and fully drown all the embers.
- Never use volatile gasses, like gasoline, to start a fire.
- Avoid burning garbage, treated wood, or yard waste.
- For smokers, don't discard smoldering cigarette butts – snuff them out and put them in a designated garbage container.
"These basic tips are likely common sense for residents who live in our area's rural, most at-risk regions for wildfire, but they're important for urban residents to remember, too, when heading out for recreation on either side of the Cascades this summer," Wing added.
For residents in high-risk areas, now is the time for homeowners to take responsibility for preparing their homes for the risk of wildfire by following the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) "Firewise" principles.
According to the NFPA, a property's risk hinges on its immediate surroundings – or its "home ignition zone." Firewise homes use "lean, clean and green" landscaping to create a fire buffer that encourages flames to go around, rather than through, the property.
Maintain a Firewise home by keeping grass short and green around all buildings. Use low-growing, well-pruned and fire-resistive plants, avoiding flammable ones like juniper and arborvitae. Prune tree limbs that hang within 15 feet of the ground, and clear debris and pine needles from roofs, gutters and porches. In rural areas you also should avoid using beauty bark, and stack firewood at least 30 feet away from your home or any structures.
"It's important to put in the work now to protect your home – and your greater community – from the real threat of wildfire this season," Wing said.
For more information and resources about Firewise guidelines and ways to minimize the threat of wildfire in your community, visit www.pemco.com/DontGetBurned.
About PEMCO Insurance
PEMCO Insurance, established in 1949, is a Seattle-based provider of auto, home, boat, and umbrella insurance to Northwest residents. PEMCO Insurance is sold to consumers by the method they choose – phone, local community agents, or online. For more information, visit pemco.com.
Firmani + Associates Inc.
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SOURCE PEMCO Insurance