Be aware of drought conditions

While Washington is expected to experience warmer and drier weather than the past two years, dryness is not the only factor that increases wildfire danger; lightning outbreaks also are a major concern.

Areas in the wildland/urban interface that are susceptible to lightning and experiencing these drier conditions are vulnerable because fire can move readily between structures and vegetation.

"Homeowners should do all they can to protect their property and take charge of their own fire safety," said State Fire Marshal Charles Duffy.

Protecting structures in the wildland/urban interface is one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs for wildland firefighters and there is no guarantee they can protect individual homes. Improving fire resistance within the "Home Ignition Zone," the home and surrounding 100-200 feet, increases protection during a wildfire.

The State Fire Marshal's Office offers the following suggestions:

• Within 30 feet of the home - Plant fire-resistant vegetation. 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 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 twice their mature height. Create fuel breaks such as driveways, gravel walkways and lawns.

• Beyond 100 feet - Prune and thin trees and brush. To slow the spread of fire, thin dense tree groups so canopies are not touching. Remove woody debris such as piles of stem wood or branches.

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