REDMOND, Washington — Wildfires are unpredictable, but one community in Redmond is part of a program that teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfires and to take action to prevent losses.
"Primarily, it focuses on protection of homes," said Marth Christensen, who recently assumed the role as the new FireWise coordinator for the Trilogy at Redmond Ridge retirement community.
"So out to 30 feet, you do a certain amount of stuff. Out to 100 feet, you do a certain amount of stuff,' Christensen said about zones of protection around a home.
It's simple things people can do, like keeping trees and bushes from reaching over and touching the house, keeping wood piles and fuel tanks back at least 30 feet, keeping things like grass mowed and watered and spacing trees out.
The King County Conservation District also maintains a program to help homeowners prepare to protect their property.
"We started going our wildfire work in 2015," said Mike Lasecki, forest program manager.
The relatively recent addition of fire resilience services for a 70-year-old agency speaks to the growing awareness of wildfire risks in the western half of Washington.
Heavy wildfire smoke blanketed much of the west side for weeks in 2017 and 2018, though the origins of that smoke were in British Columbia and eastern Washington. There were fatal devastating fires which burned up vast neighborhoods and even a town in California in those same years.
"95 percent of our fires are started by people," said Charlie Burns, the Pinnacle Unit Fire Manager for the south Puget Sound Region, which part of the Washington Department of Natural Resources. "King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, they have an average of 2,500 natural vegetation fires a year."
"The pre-planning, that's what's happening in this community," said Burns. " They are anticipating, they are looking ahead."