While spring is in full swing, the Northwest is already preparing for summer wildfire season – particularly following the unprecedented damage to many rural homes and communities last year. But a poll from PEMCO Insurance warns that almost one-third of residents who live in Oregon’s most at-risk areas for wildfire haven’t taken the necessary steps to fully protect, or “Firewise,” their properties.
According to the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll, the vast majority of Oregon residents share some degree of concern for the possibility of wildfires, and many residents on the east side of the state believe there is a very real chance wildfire will directly impact their lives.
But despite their concern, the poll finds that of the Oregonians who say they live in an at-risk area, nearly one-third haven’t taken the steps they know to be most important precautions for protecting their homes against wildfire.
“We know that preparing your home for wildfire is a major job. The people we polled agree that clearing dry brush, grass and weeds from around the property is the most important task – and that certainly takes time and effort. But we also know from experience that the consequences of not doing it can be devastating,” said PEMCO Spokesperson Derek Wing.
More than half of those polled in Oregon say that one of Firewise’s basic guidelines – clearing flammable vegetation – is the most important step toward protecting a property from the threat of wildfire. Wildfire prevention experts agree.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a property’s risk hinges on its immediate surroundings – or its “home ignition zone” – and it urges residents to think “lean, clean and green” when working to protect their property. Keep grass short and green around the home, use low-growing, well-pruned and fire-resistive plants, prune low-hanging tree limbs, and clear debris and pine needles from roofs, gutters and porches.
In Oregon, the state’s mantra “wildfire knows no season” helps relay the urgency of preparing now.
“The fight against wildfire starts at home. Every property owner needs to take action now to reduce their wildfire threat,” said Larry Medina, deputy chief of Fire Prevention at the Bend Fire Department.
Last year, Oregon saw 2,588 fires that spanned 685,809 acres and, despite this winter’s precipitation, the U.S. Drought Monitor says southeast areas of Oregon remain with moderate to severe drought conditions, making them vulnerable for wildfires.
“The healthy snowpack in the mountain regions of the state this winter mean the wildfire season may be shorter, but residents still need to be prepared for the inevitable wildfires that are sure to happen across the state,” Wing said.
PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey that asked Washington and Oregon residents questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 600 respondents in Washington and 600 in Oregon, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. In other words, if this study were conducted 100 times, in 95 instances the data will not vary by more than the associated error range.
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