‘I felt helpless’: Yakima homeowners take advantage of Wildfire Ready Neighbors program
YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima County homeowners can now get a firefighter to visit their property and help them figure out what they need to do protect their homes for the upcoming wildfire season at no cost to themselves.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources launched the Wildfire Ready Neighbors program last summer in high-risk communities across three counties and had more than 2,000 residents sign up.
Residents can receive a free consultation with a wildfire expert who will visit their property to determine what steps they can take to prepare for wildfires, such as trimming back brush, cleaning roofs and gutters, and removing debris.
“What we’ve done is helping homeowners, renters, small forest landowners, have the resources and the understanding of what they need to do to make their homes and their neighborhoods more resilient,” Washington State Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz said.
Franz said they expanded the program this year to include Yakima County, which experienced the devastating Schneider Springs Fire last fall and saw a total of 107,000 acres burn during the 2021 wildfire season.
“That’s why program is so critical because this is a county that year after year is facing increasing fires, increasing threats to the community,” Franz said. “We do not and should not wait until fire is at the doorstep of our homes.”
One recommendation was to clear sagebrush from the area surrounding their home.
Craig said having the whole community on board is important because it creates a larger area that’s less susceptible to wildfires.
“The fire is going to come eventually to your neighborhood and the more prepared your home is the better chance we have of saving it,” Craig said.
Yakima County residents can sign up for the Wildfire Ready Neighbors program here. Anyone who thinks they might need financial assistance to make their property ready for wildfires can potentially apply for funding through DNR’s cost share program.
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