Wildfires are unplanned fires that burn in forests, agricultural or other natural areas. They can happen anywhere at any time. They can be caused by lightning, but often are caused by humans.
Wildfires don’t only destroy timber and agricultural land – they can also ruin homes and businesses and cause injury or death to people and animals.
Prepare for Wildfires
Before wildfire season gets underway (and this seems to be happening earlier and earlier each year) take these actions to prepare yourself and your family:
Harden Your Home Against Wildfire
- Make a defensible space around your home. This fire-resistant zone should be free of leaves, debris, or flammable materials. It should extend for at least 30 -100 feet between your home and surrounding wildland area.
- When landscaping your property, try fire-resistant plants to help reduce your risk.
- If building, renovating, or repairing your home, use fire-resistant materials.
Create a Family Evacuation Plan
- Make a plan for evacuating yourself, your family, and any pets or livestock. Know several ways to leave the area and drive them ahead of time.
- Gather your emergency supplies. Make sure you have a “go kit” that is portable and will meet all family members’ needs. Include N95 respirator masks to filter out particles in the air.
- Keep important documents in a fireproof safe. Create password-protected digital copies.
Work with Neighbors to Reduce Wildfire Risk
- Learn about the Firewise USA® program and work with your neighbors to become a Firewise USA® site. Read more.
Know Where to Get Information
- Sign up for Linn-Benton Alert. This is our community’s warning system. By signing up for this emergency notification system you’ll receive alerts about local emergencies. You are highly encouraged to sign up with your cellular phone so that you can continue to get alerts and information about the fire should you have to evacuate.
Help Prevent Wildfires
Prime conditions for the outbreak of a wildfire are high temperatures, low relative humidity, and winds. Here are some things you can do to help lower the risk that a wildfire will start:
Red Flag Warning
When wildfire conditions are present in our area, the National Weather Service will issue a Red Flag Warning. A Red Flag Warning means that forecasters believe weather conditions could allow fires to break out and spread quickly.
Here are some things to avoid on Red Flag Warning days:
- Don’t park or drive over dry grass or vegetation. The heat from your exhaust pipe can ignite the vegetation.
- Secure safety chains on trailers. Dragging chains is one way fires can start and quickly spread out of control.
- If you smoke, dispose of your smoking material in sturdy, deep, ashtrays and make sure they are extinguished with water. Never discard smoking material on the ground or in vegetation.
- Avoid land clearing or slash burning.
- Avoid welding near dry vegetation.
- Don’t use fireworks, tiki torches, or other open flames in wildland areas.
- Postpone target shooting.
- Avoid campfires or burn piles.
Burn Bans and the Burn Information Line
If conditions are particularly dangerous, authorities will issue burn bans to reduce the risk of wildfires. These bans prohibit specific behavior such as backyard burning or campfires.
It is each person’s responsibility to know what is allowed or prohibited. You can find out by calling the Corvallis and surrounding area Burn Information Line at: 541-766-6971.
When Wildfires Threaten
When wildfires threaten our area make sure you understand evacuation warning levels and are ready to act. Wildfires are unpredictable. Depending on the situation, you may not get all three notices.
Level 1 – Ready
At this level be aware that danger exists and start preparing for a possible evacuation.
- Monitor emergency services websites and local media outlets for information.
- At the first warning from authorities, prepare yourself and your home for evacuation. Gather your emergency supplies and be ready to leave.
- Houses can burn over a mile from the fire because burning embers, carried on the wind, get into the structure. To help protect your home close all windows, vents, and your fireplace damper; turn off electrical systems such as lights, air conditioning and/or heating system; and hose down the roof and the outside of your house.
- Under certain circumstances, such as a family member with special needs or the need to move livestock to safety, you may want to take the precautionary step of actually leaving the area.
Level 2 – Set
This level means there is a significant danger to our area and you must be prepared to leave.
- Consider voluntarily relocating to a shelter or with family and friends outside the affected area. Leave if your safety feels compromised.
- If you do not voluntarily relocate, be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.
This may be the only warning notice you receive! Emergency services personnel cannot guarantee that they will be able to notify you if conditions rapidly deteriorate.
Level 3 - Go!
This level means that the danger to our area is current or imminent and you must evacuate.
- If told to do so, evacuate immediately. Cooperate with public safety personnel.
- At this stage DO NOT take the time to gather your belongings or make efforts to protect your home. Leave immediately!
This will be the last notice you receive. If you choose to ignore this warning you must understand that emergency personnel may not be available to assist you further.
After a Wildfire
Check with authorities before attempting to return to your home. Although the fire may appear to be out, flare ups can occur. Entry into an evacuated area may be denied until conditions are safe. Again, monitor local media for updates on the situation and use caution when re-entering a burned area.