PORTLAND, Ore. — Fire season is off to an early start and experts have tips to help people protect their homes.
The drought happening across the Oregon is one concern for firefighters. Another is the number of fires they’ve already responded to: Almost 300 fires have burned 2,000 acres. That's already well above the annual 10-year average of 120 fires torching 480 acres.
“We are looking at fires in a different way this year, really from a year perspective versus a fire season," said Oregon State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple.
The drought map shows most of the state in severe drought with parts of southern Oregon in extreme or exceptional drought. Experts urge homeowners in fire-prone areas to have protection and prevention in mind when it comes to their property.
“We want to make sure that folks are doing that defensible space around their home,” said John Hendricks, a public affairs specialist with the office of the state fire marshal.
He described three zones around homes that are considered defensible space. That's defined as the space five feet from your home: Five to 30 feet from it and areas 30 to a 100 feet away.
"We don’t want to see any dry brush or grasses in this zone, that way when a fire does get to your house, it kind of slows it and then it stops it before," said Hendricks.
Roofs and gutters should be clear of dried debris. Homeowners should also make sure to have a bag packed and a route planned in case a fire prompts an evacuation order.
"We really encourage folks to take it one step at a time," said Hendricks. "Maybe this weekend it’s cleaning your gutters, maybe next weekend it’s looking at that 5 feet around your house and just kind of taking one project at a time until you take all those small steps and make that big impact in helping protect yourself."
The National Fire Protection Association's website has more tips on how to create a defensible space and protect homes.