Across the western portion of the United States, agencies are preparing for an extreme wildfire season. A new report from the National Interagency Fire Center claims that significant fire potential will plague the west due to a number of weather patterns. To prepare for this, federal officials are working in collaboration with state and local agencies to protect Americans from wildfires and to put in place a number of ways both the average homeowner and these public safety groups can reduce risks during the 2013 fire season.
"One of our greatest strengths in wildfire management is that Federal, Tribal, State, and local government agencies recognize that the challenge is too great for any one organization to tackle on its own," said Secretary Sally Jewell. "As regions across the country face serious risks of wildfires this season, the work ongoing at the National Interagency Fire Center is important to ensure that we're doing everything we can to protect lives, communities and our natural resources. The public also has an important role to play, and I encourage homeowners and communities to take proactive steps when it comes to preparedness, prevention and safety."
Fire potential on the horizon
Significant fire potential is being seen across the western half of the United States. However, certain states are predicted to experience severe cases of wildfires, including Arizona, New Mexico, California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Washington.
According to the U.S. Department of Interior's press release, 9.3 million acres of private, state and federal land was burned in 2012, along with the destruction of more than 4,400 structures. These figures represent the third highest number of acres burned since 1960 – the earliest date with reliable records. To prevent such extreme damage, programs are being put in place to educate both the public and local and state agencies.
"The US Forest Service, Federal fire managers and crews will continue to work closely with states and communities to protect residents, property and our natural resources during what could be a challenging wildfire season," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, according to a press release. "We are working together to preposition our firefighting teams and equipment to make the most effective use of available resources during this time of constrained budgets."
Preparation efforts set in place for wildfires
At the National Interagency Fire Center, experts are working to monitor fire activity and provide information to the local agencies that may be able to use it and proactively deter fires from spreading. In addition, the agency is urging the public and local departments in at-risk communities to improve safety by creating community wildfire protection plans that include training. These initiatives are expected to help fire departments and forestry departments control the spread of fire, decrease destruction and ensure that everyone remains safe. More than 70,000 communities across the afore mentioned states are labeled as at extreme risk for wildfires. In these communities especially, training compliance with standards kept by the federal government will boost safety for everyone involved.
"When fires burn uncontrolled in our nation's wildlands, it means the loss of our homes, businesses, personal possessions, and all too often, lives," said U.S. Fire Administrator Ernie Mitchell. "As the men and women of our nation's firefighting forces prepare for this year's wildfire season, they need your help. By taking simple fire prevention steps, you will not only protect yourself and your families, but also the firefighters who put their lives in harm's way to fight wildfires. Remember, fire is everyone's fight."
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