A tale of two properties: How being Firewise helped one family save their home

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Nov 17, 2014


In early August of this year, lightning ignited a wildfire approximately 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg, WA. The fire, fueled by grass, brush and timber, destroyed 19 structures and over 8,800 acres of land. In the fall issue of the Firewise How-To newsletter, Melinda Mays shares her story of how a little foresight and preparedness prevented her family’s cabins from being destroyed by this fire.

Melinda and her husband Tyler’s families each respectively owned property in Kittitas County, which is close to the Ellensburg area. Over the past four years, vegetation around Tyler’s side of the family’s cabin had been routinely thinned by the cost-share program run by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). And so during this year’s Snag Canyon Fire, although the fire did burn through sections of the thinned land, it stayed mostly on the ground and eventually burned out. Thanks to these preparedness efforts, what could have resulted in a loss of 80 acres of harvestable timber, was instead left untouched.

Melinda’s family, however, owned property on the opposite side of the canyon, where there were no NRCS clean-up efforts yet. She was aware of the dangers of the fire and knew she would likely lose her land and cabin if she did nothing. So she took matters into her own hands and, with the help of her family, piloted clean-up efforts which saved her house.

Read more about Melinda Mays and the steps she took in the fall’s Firewise How-To newsletter