Protect your home, family during fire season

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It’s summertime and naturally, the environment is more relaxed. Kids are home from school and on summer break. Many other adults are taking some well-earned vacation time. And some people are taking ‘staycations’ by enjoying the scenic parks and lakes in the Columbia Basin.

Summertime also means it’s fire season. A major fire at Upper Goose Lake on July 9 burned 800 acres and triggered a Level 3 evacuation notice. Earlier this summer, two wildfires near Quincy and Moses Lake burned a total of 84 acres of land, according to a KREM News report. Other fires have been reported this summer as well, locally and statewide. Whether the fires are caused by man, nature, or a combination of factors, it’s a good time to share some fire safety reminders for the home and outdoors.

The state Department of Natural Resources recommends homeowners do the following to protect their homes:

• Make sure trees are limbed at least 10 feet up to reduce the likelihood of the tops catching fire

• Make sure your home/structure has non-flammable roof and deck

• Trim vegetation so the fire department can have safe access to your home

• Keep vegetation, including the lawn around the home, low and green

• Use bark away from the home because it will smolder

For those camping this summer, pay attention to the weather forecast and fire danger rating. As of this week, the fire danger rating in Grant County was considered “high” by the state Department of Natural Resources, along with much of Eastern Washington.

Temperatures will remain in the low to high 90s this week in the Columbia Basin.

Be sure to stay current on any burn restrictions and check the status of wildfires statewide by following the #WaWILDFIRE hashtag on Twitter. On a national level, larger fires can be followed online at inciweb.nwcg.gov.

Do you have a camping trip planned? If so, the U.S. Forest Service, National Association of State Foresters and The Ad Council offer detailed campfire instructions on their educational website smokeybear.com. Picking your campsite, preparing your campfire pit, building your campfire, and maintaining and extinguishing your campfire are explained.

We recommend you educate yourself on burning regulations and if need be, read more about campfire safety if you’re new to outdoors camping. That can mean the difference between an enjoyable experience and tragedy.

— Editorial Board

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