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Wildfire season is here: Would your home be saved or left to burn?

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BLACK DIAMOND, Wash.--  "You've got trees right up against this house," says Bradley Joyce, who is in training with Mountain View Fire and Rescue and assessing the fire threat at this run-down home in rural southeastern King County. "A lot of fuels to burn right up against the

house side

Things that don't belong in this picture: tall grasses, bush too close to the house, untrimmed tree too close to low bushes and a mossy roof.

house here."

He points out classic examples of what not to do as fire season begins in earnest.

"As you can see, the grasses right here go into the ladder fuels here," he says pointing to some overgrown bushes. "The bushes straight into the tree that hasn't been trimmed."

April was the hottest on record ,in Western Washington. Our snow pack has melted faster than ever and now both May and June have each had less than half the normal rainfall.

"There's a good possibility this is going to be a bad fire season."

Tim Perciful has been through many fire seasons with his district, where the homes and neighborhoods are  commonly tucked into the forest. He says they've seen big wildfires before and wants people to be prepared.


Fire likes to travel up hill. Here the dry grasses would lead a wildfire right to the back door of this home.

"We’re really concerned about July and August because of the weather we’ve had."

Perciful says with giant wildfires in California in the news, it's a good time to think about a defensible space around your home. About 20-30 feet of low, well-watered greenery is ideal in rural locations. In more urban locations, about 5-10 feet will do.

 "All it takes is a few days of hot and dry weather to make that fuel where it will burn really easily," says Perciful.
And keeping that dry vegetation at a distance could mean the difference between your home being saved or left to burn. "Life is more important, and then property." He says crews in a wildfire

The moss covered roof on this out building could easily dry out and burn from a single ember from a nearby wildfire.

situation have only seconds to determine if they'll be putting their own lives in danger to save a house. The easier a house is to defend, the harder they will try.

And for the home that  Bradley Joyce is showing us, which has fallen into disrepair, it would certainly be a lost cause.

Joyce points out the moss covering big parts of the roof.

"There's enough on it that it will definitely burn."

Perciful points out that already this spring we've seen wildfires west of the Cascades. He says there was a large fire considering the time of year near the town of Oso in Snohomish County. The wildfire season typically peaks in the Pacific Northwest in August or September.

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