Wildfire Arson – the intentional and/or reckless burning of underdeveloped wildland or uncultivated land – is the cause of many large and damaging wildfires throughout the United States.
Although most residents have no intention of starting a wildfire, 75 percent of all reported wildland fires in Washington State last year were human-caused, according to a press release from the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
In 2015, our state experienced its worst wildland fire season on record—which resulted in more than 2,000 reported fires that affected 1.1 million acres, and totaled more than $343 million in fire suppression costs alone. The State Fire Marshal’s Office is partnering with the United States Fire Administration to gather and share information to raise awareness of wildfire arson and provide individuals with strategies to combat it in their communities.
This year, May 1-7 is “National Arson Awareness Week” with a focus on “Prevent Wildfire Arson – Spread the Facts Not the Fire.”
“Make it your goal this Arson Awareness Week to consider ways to prevent devastating wildfires,” Fire Marshal Charles Duffy said in a press release.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office offers the following prevention and preparedness projects that focus on identifying and removing things or materials that an arsonist could use to start a fire:
• Clean up the neighborhood by removing all garbage, material, and excess vegetation that is capable of being ignited.
• Remove all possible sources of ignition such as flammable liquids and unused gas containers.
• Remove abandoned vehicles.
Secure abandoned and vacant homes which are potential arson targets. This may be comprised of additional locks or the boarding up of broken windows or other openings with plywood.
• Know your wildfire risk.
• Make a wildfire emergency plan.
• Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
• Familiarize yourself with local emergency plans. Know where to go and how to get there should you need to evacuate.
• Know how to report arson activity. If you know or suspect that an arson crime has been committed call 9-1-1, or your local fire department or the Arson Hotline: 800-55-ARSON (27766).
For more information visit the United States Fire Administration website at www.usfa.fema.gov.