Drought, record-breaking heat, and other weather conditions including high winds have all contributed to the region’s intense wildfires. Some of the wildfires have been caused by arson. Perhaps you are thinking that this is referring to the wildfire season that typically occurs around this time of year out West, however, the recent news reports refer to wildfires raging in the South East.
Extended drought and record-setting heat waves contributed to high-intensity wildfires that have caused fatalities and scorched over 80,000 acres, sent at least 200 people to hospitals and to date the US Department of Agriculture listed 15 large uncontained fires and over 50 new fires. According to one news report, “Droughts are to blame for many of the blazes, the Associated Press reported. ‘There are places getting ready to set records for most number of days in a row without rain,’ Alabama climatologist John Christy told the wire service before the fires began. ‘It’s a once-in-100-year kind of thing for this time of year.’” Theme parks and resorts have been threatened including Dollywood the theme park founded by American country music legend Dolly Parton.
Other news reports describe how hundreds have been evacuated from the wildfires in Tennessee. Homes have burned and highways have been closed. Fires in Tennessee has resulted in firefighter and civilian injuries. This “perfect wildfire storm” in the South East fought by many firefighters through the Thanksgiving holiday, has exemplified that any area in the United States can be impacted by grass, forest and brush wildfires given the right conditions. Communities can take action today by following Firewise Principles to protect their homes and communities. Simple steps taken today can make a difference in the survivability of your home and those you care about. Simple actions such as:
- Cleaning out gutters
- Raking and removing flammable materials such as pine straw from next to your home
- Removing dead vegetation
- Make sure vents and other openings are screened or otherwise protected from wildfire.
- Make sure that your lawn is well maintained and mowed
- Throw away or properly store building materials in sheds away from the home
- Move wood piles at least 30 feet away from your home
Learn how you and your community can be better prepared before the next wildfire and take steps together today that can ultimately help you, your family, wildland firefighters, and your property survive the next wildfire season.
Image of wildfires from NASA