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Forest fire safety and wildfire risk reduction

How to prepare your home for a wildfire. With a little training and some attention to conditions around your home, you can keep your home and family safer.

Even in temperate western Washington it can take only a few sunny days for forests to dry out enough to catch fire. And, in windy conditions wildfires can get out of control quickly. Wildfires do burn every year in King County. Before wildfire strikes, homeowners can help protect lives and property by creating a fire-adapted space around structures.

Top 8 tips for maintaining a wildfire safety zone in the 30 feet around your home

  1. Remove all dead plant material from around your home. Rake up dry leaves (under decks and porches too!) and move firewood away from the house. Keep your roof and gutters clear of flammable debris.
  2. Place a 3 to 5-foot swath of gravel or stones around the foundation of your home instead of flammable mulch.
  3. Prune branches that overhang or touch the house.
  4. Take out "ladder fuels," vegetation between grass and treetops that can carry fire between foliage and structures.
  5. Keep blowing embers out of your house. Cover exterior vents with fine (1/8-inch) mesh.
  6. Store flammable materials, including cushions, indoors instead of on porches and decks.
  7. Use fire-resistant construction materials such as Class-A asphalt shingles, metal or concrete products for your roof.
  8. Use fire-resistant plants in the garden. Read our list of fire-resistant plants for the Puget Sound Basin, or search our illustrated Native Plant Guide for fire-resistant plants.

Outside the 30-foot zone, manage woodlands for forest health. Fire safe forests can also be healthy forests. Forests with sufficient growing space for trees are not only less susceptible to fire, but properly managed forests are also healthier and more drought tolerant than forests where trees are crowded together with many dead lower limbs or dry brush.

Other wildfire safety services