According to Oklahoma emergency officials, more than 93,000 acres have burned in fires across the state since Friday. To date, many of these fires have been contained or mostly contained, but the threat of continued wildfire activity remains high here during the next few weeks due to hot, dry and windy conditions.
Remember: it’s important to pay attention to notices posted by your local and state emergency officials as they monitor the fire situation. For instance, if you’re thinking about grilling outdoors or if vacation plans take you camping, limit your grilling use and lighting of campfires. When in the car, take care not drive or park your vehicles on dry grass, which can ignite from sparks under the vehicle.
The Firewise Communities Program provides additional simple steps that homeowners and residents can take to reduce the risk of homes becoming fuel for a wildfire. Here are some steps to consider:
- Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
- Remove dead vegetation from underyour deck and within 10 feet of the house.
- Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches.
- Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
- Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane tanks, dry vegetation) within 30 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 tree tops. If you have trees on your property, prune so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
- Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it is brown cut it down to reduce fire intensity. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
- Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
- Inspect shingles or roof tiles. Replace or repair those that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration.
- Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
- Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screen with metal mesh to prevent ember entry.
It’s important to recognize that the actions you take now can help you tomorrow. You can make a difference. Case in point: the community of Skiatook, OK. Thanks to all the mitigation work done by residents ahead of the fires, this FirewiseCommunities/USA site was spared major damage. Watch this news clip on “Tulsa News on 6” and learn first-hand what they did.
We’re proud of all the wildfire preparation and mitigation work that many Oklahoma residents are doing right now. Did you know there are 37 active Firewise recognized communities in the state? See the list here. Your community can do the same! Our Firewise regional advisor and Firewise state liaison for Oklahoma can help you get started. Learn more about howto become a Firewise Communities/USA site, and prepare your neighborhood now before a wildfire strikes.
Want to take it one step further? The Fire Adapted Communities initiative is a great way to engage all members of a community to create a safer place to live. You can learn more about your role and the role of other community residents, and the steps your community can take to become fire adapted by visiting the website at www.fireadapted.org.