Oklahoma wildfire raises concern for community safety

Firewise tips help Oklahoma residents reduce their homes’ risk from wildfire

May 5, 2014 – High winds and hot, dry weather has fueled the flames of a fast-moving wildfire near Guthrie, Oklahoma, just north of Oklahoma City, which has threatened homes and property in communities across the central part of the state. According to news reports, the Guthrie fire has burned more than 3,000 acres and destroyed at least 20 homes, and is one of several grass fires to break out in recent days. Many more homes and properties remain under threat.

According to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, the past six months in central Oklahoma have been the second driest on record. Nearly 80 percent of the state is currently experiencing drought conditions, which increases the risk for more grass fires to spark in the continued hot, dry weather.

Many local residents, however, have already taken steps to reduce their wildfire risk. Using proven principles for wildfire safety, 42 communities in Oklahoma participate in the national Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program, which encourages residents to do their part to keep their homes and property safer from wildfire.

list of all Oklahoma Firewise-recognized sites can be found on the Firewise website.

Wildfire doesn’t have to burn everything in its path. In fact, effectively treating the home ignition zone can dramatically increase the chances of a home surviving. Cleaning the property of debris and maintaining the landscaping are important first steps. Below are actions residents can take to reduce their risk:

  • Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks – and don’t use these areas for storage of flammable items. This helps prevent embers from igniting these materials.
  • Keep lawns hydrated and maintained. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
  • Remove flammable materials within five feet of the home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch the house, deck or wood fencing.
  • Reduce vegetation surrounding the home’s perimeter from a 5 foot to 30 foot area and manage vegetation there to 200 feet or the property line, depending on the area’s wildfire risk. NFPA’s “basics of defensible space and the home ignition zone” page on the Firewise site provides these and other steps for homeowners to help them prepare homes/home landscapes to resist wildfire.

A comprehensive Firewise tips checklist and safety guidelines sheet for homeowners are also available.

Learn more about how to keep families safe and reduce homeowners’ risk for wildfire damage on NFPA’s wildfire division web page. Additionally, complimentary brochures, booklets, pamphlets, videos and much more can be found on the wildfire preparedness page and ordered online through NFPA’sonline wildfire safety catalog.

About Firewise
The Firewise Communities Program encourages local solutions for safety by involving homeowners in taking individual responsibility for preparing their homes from the risk of wildfire. Firewise is a key component of Fire Adapted Communities – a collaborative approach that connects all those who play a role in wildfire education, planning and action with comprehensive resources to help reduce risk. The Firewise Communities Program and Fire Adapted Communities are sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association and USDA Forest Service.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed at no cost at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

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Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275

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