Prepare for above-normal wildfire peril

Projected dry conditions will lead to above normal significant fire potential in areas of Washington this summer.

"Due to the heightened fire danger, it is important for homeowners to start preparing for fire season now," says state fire marshal Mike Matlick.

Homeowners living in wildland areas should understand the basics of wildfire and be prepared for when a wildfire occurs. Fuels, weather and terrain significantly can influence the path and spread of a wildfire.

Homeowners should concentrate on reducing the exposure and flammability of their home by clearing debris from under decks, keeping their roof and rain gutters free of pine needles and other flammable material, and storing firewood away from the house.

It also is important to reduce and manage the fuels in the home ignition zone:

_ Within 30 feet of the home - Plant fire-resistant vegetation and water plants and trees regularly to ensure that they are healthy and green; mow the lawn regularly. Prune shrubs and cut back tree branches; the lowest branches should be at least 6-10 feet high and should not overhang any part of your home.

_ Within 30 to 100 feet from the home - Any trees should be spaced 20-30 feet between crowns to prevent fire spread. Plant in small, irregular clusters or islands. Separate shrubs by at least two times their mature height. Create fuel breaks such as driveways, gravel walkways and lawns.

_ Beyond 100 feet - Prune and thin trees and brush. Break up the fire ladder leading from brush up into trees. Thin out dense tree groups so canopies are not touching to slow the spread of fire. Remove heavy accumulation of woody debris, such as piles of stem wood or branches.

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