This week is Wildfire Awareness Week, so we’re taking a look at what you need to know before peak wildfire season begins this summer.
How do wildfires start?
Smoking. According to Arizona Interagency Wildfire Prevention (AIWP), a cigarette is a small fire that could turn into a larger one under the right conditions. They say to never throw a cigarette out of a car window and to always properly extinguish the flame before discarding it.
Vehicles. Driving or parking on dry grass can pose a threat to start a fire, especially if the exhaust is blocked or there are sparks coming from any part of the car. That includes worn out brake pads. Something as simple as a hot engine can cause dry grass to ignite.
Private burns. This is one of the most common ways that fires start according to AIWP. They say to never burn when it’s extremely dry or windy conditions, and choose a site that’s away from things like trees, powerlines, homes and vehicles.
If you’re planning a burn of your own, AIWP says to make sure there is gravel or soil in at least 10 feet in every direction surrounding where the fire will burn.
How to protect yourself and your home
Gardening. Fire-resistant plants like lilac, mahogany, and yucca can slow down the spread of fire, according to the University of Arizona, though they also remind homeowners that no plant is completely non-flammable.
Keep your yard clean. Keeping your roof and yard free of debris like needles, leaves and branches can prevent fire from spreading. This includes moving wood piles or wooden furniture as far from your home as possible.
Get wildfire insurance. If you’re concerned about your property being damaged in a wildfire, you can purchase insurance that will protect your home in the event of a fire.
Have a plan. If you live in an area that could be impacted by a fire, prepare yourself by having an evacuation plan. This includes a “go bag” including things like a change of clothes, bottled water, snacks and a flashlight in case you have to leave your home in a rush.