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Tips to Prevent Brush Fires

July 15, 2014

Brush Fire

We’ve talked a few times about forest fires and how to protect your property from them, but let’s be honest: as residents of Western Washington the idea of a forest fire is pretty remote from our minds, right? It’s something that happens near Chelan or in Spokane County.

And that’s true, isn’t it?

Not so much. Take for instance the brush fire that started along I-5 near Kent a couple of days ago (check out some pictures at KOMO News here). That fire was caused by a broken axle on a vehicle and while it only spread to 1.5 acres, it caused a 7-mile backup along the freeway.  Still nothing like Eastern Washington, but it shows how easily something could start here. In fact in May of 2013 a 60-acre fire burned in the Capitol Forest near Olympia and a 100-acre fire started in Lewis County.

What precautions can we, in Western Washington, take to help prevent a massive blaze? The same precautions folks elsewhere take! With our heat wave as of late and all the dense vegetation in our area it’s just as important that we act fire-safe.

  • Be sure nothing is dragging from your vehicle. Dragging items, like chains or metal rods, can create sparks which easily ignite dry brush.
  • Don’t throw cigarettes out your car window. Did you know that 90% of wildfires in the United States are caused by humans? Both discarded cigarettes and unattended campfires are the main cause. Lava and lightning only cause about 10% of fires.
  • Report brush fires when you see them. Even if it’s only a small burning patch by the side of the freeway it can quickly grow out of control. Call 911 and let them know the location so fire crews can contain it—don’t just assume that someone else has already reported it!
  • Don’t burn trash in your backyard without the proper permits. This can be especially dangerous during the late summer months when grasses and brush are extra dry. Brush fires don’t even have to touch the ground to spread. Just igniting the tips of grass can quickly spread a fire.

Brush fires can occur just about anywhere given the right fuel load and dry conditions. Using a little bit of extra caution can go a long way in helping to prevent fires!

Interested in tracking or locating current or historic wildfire or large brush fire information? Our PropertyEDGE program now incorporates a live and historic fire overlay, updated every time the government updates their maps! To learn more, contact Tracy Skinner at or by phone at 206.273.7146!

Article by: Kristen Skinner

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