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Wildfire Preparedness Print E-mail


While the risk of wildland fire in the islands is lower than in many other regions of Washington State and the American West, we do need to be careful during the summer months

During the dry summer months, please be extremely careful with possible ignition sources:

  • Be cautious when using metal blade power tools, chain saws, mowers, weed whackers, etc. Hitting a rock can create sparks that will ignite dry grass.
  • Discard of cigarettes properly
  • Be careful of parking a car in high dry grass
  • Only have recreational fires when allowed to do so, and fully extinguish when done
  • Have a charged hose close at hand when performing any activity that could be source of ignition
Report suspicious smoke or illegal fire activity to San Juan County Dispatch at 360-378-4151. The San Juan County Fire Marshall's Office has info on burn season regulations.

Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. Select materials and plants that resist fire rather than fuel it. Use fire resistant or non-combustible materials on the exterior of the dwelling. Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. Visit www.firewise.org for more info.


  • Maintain a 30 foot defensible space around your home to act as a fire break.

  • Clear a 10 foot area around propane tanks and the barbecue.

  • Regularly dispose of newspapers and rubbish.

  • Regularly clean roof and gutters.

  • Landscape in zones around your house.

  • Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Clear flammable vegetation from around and under structures.

  • Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.

  • Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.

  • Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home. Clear combustible materials within 20 feet and use only UL-approved wood burning devices.

  • Follow local burning regulations.

  • Store flammable materials in approved safety cans.

  • Inspect chimneys twice a year. Clean them at least once a year.

  • Use mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen opening to floors, roof and attic.

  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home; in your bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries.

  • Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.

  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.

  • Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, hand saw or chain saw, bucket and shovel.

When Fire Threatens

If time permits: close windows, vents, doors, blinds, and noncombustible window coverings. Remove lightweight curtains. Shut off gas at the meter. Close Fireplace damper and screen. Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding glass doors. Turn on a light in each room to increase visibility of your home in heavy smoke. Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seals. Turn off propane tanks. Place combustible patio furniture inside. Connect the garden hose to outside taps. Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above-ground fuel tanks. Wet the roof. Wet or remove shrubs within 15 feet of the home. Gather fire tools.

  • Listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Remember, use common sense. An evacuation order might not always be issued or received. You need to rely on your best judgment at all times.

  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of evacuation.

  • Close doors and windows. Leave the key in the ignition. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers.

  • Confine pets to one room. Plan for their care if you must evacuate and can't take them with you.

  • Arrange for temporary housing outside the threatened area.

  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Again, use common sense and make your own decisions. If it seems dangerous, evacuate.

  • Tell someone when you are leaving and where you are going.

  • If you evacuate your home place a note on the door indicating when you left and where you are going.

  • Wear protective clothing -- sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothing, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, hat, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face.

  • Take your disaster supplies kit.

  • Lock your home.

  • Choose a route away from fire hazards. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.