Jefferson County residents are encouraged to prepare their homes for the impending wildfire season and the expected increased risk of wildfire activity.
National trends show that wildfire risk and the size of many wildfires are growing. Due to increasing wildland fire activity over the past decade, Jefferson County fire officials continue to educate residents and communities about what they can do to prepare before a wildfire strikes. Wildfires do not have to burn everything in their paths.
As an incentive, private landowners are eligible to receive $300 if they reduce the threat of wildfire to their residence by cleaning up the area around their home, called the ignition zone. That will increase their home's resistance to wildfire while also saving firefighters' lives.
Funding for the project is provided by the Jefferson County Title III program that seeks to advance property owner and public awareness on implementing the principles of Ready, Set, Go! and Firewise.
Residents are encouraged to follow the principles of Ready, Set, Go! which help residents be ready with preparedness understanding, be set with situational awareness when fire threatens, and to go, acting early when a fire starts.
To learn more about Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council's cash incentive program, Ready, Set, Go! or Firewise, visit www.coic.org and click on "Economic Development" then "Community Forestry" and choose Jefferson County.
To see if you are eligible for the $300, contact the Jefferson County Fire Department at 541-475-7274, Crooked River Ranch Crooked River Ranch Fire and Rescue at 541-923-6776, or Lake Chinook Lake Chinook Fire and Rescue at 541-629-8911.
The following are tips for Jefferson County residents:
- Obey outdoor burning bans. Don't burn trash or debris when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush, household trash and other debris is a main cause of wildfires.
- If camping or hunting, check local restrictions on campfires. Use an approved gas stove as an alternative for heating and cooking.
- Dispose of smoking materials properly. Don't throw them out your window.
- Avoid parking and idling in dry grass. Catalytic converters can get hot enough to ignite the grass.
- Keep water available when using welding equipment or cutting torches around grass and brush. A 5-gallon bucket of water with a tote sack in it could prove valuable if sparks or hot pieces of metal catch nearby grass on fire.
- Avoid setting hot chainsaws or other gas-powered equipment in dry grass, which could ignite after coming into contact with hot mufflers.
To prepare for wildfire, be sure to do the following:
- Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
- Ground cover should be mainly nonflammable or fire-resistant. Dry grass should be cut to a height of less than 4 inches.
- Remove grass, leaves, needles, twigs, bushes within 3-5 feet of your home's foundation and outbuildings including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don't let it touch your house, deck or porch.
- Wildfire can spread to treetops. If you have large trees on your property, prune so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet high.
- Don't let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of those items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
- Landscape your area with native and less-flammable plants. Your state forestry agency or county extension office can provide plant information.
COIC serves the local governments of Central Oregon, providing regional collaboration, efficiencies and service delivery for a strong local economy and quality of life. COIC works with the fire districts in Jefferson and Crook counties to improve county-wide strategies to reduce the risk of wildfire.
Firewise is a nationally recognized program in which communities develop an action plan that guides residential risk reduction activities, while engaging and encouraging their neighbors to become active participants in building a safer place to live.
More than 1,220 communities in the U.S. — including more than 100 in Oregon — have dramatically lowered their risk of wildfire damage by participating in this program, and USAA Insurance now offers discounts to their Oregon policy holders in active Firewise Communities.
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