As Firefighters Battle for Control of AZ Wildfire, FEMA Advises on "What to Do"

Arizona state officials began allowing approximately 7,000 residents to return home following an out-of-control Arizona wildfire, the largest in the state’s history. While the fire was only 18% contained as of June 14, firefighters said they were making progress in controlling the fire. About 30 homes and cabins have been destroyed since the fire began May 29.

“Everything is holding,” said Jerome Macdonald, the fire operations chief, as quoted by www.boston.com. “Compared to what we’ve been dealing with just two days ago … We’re feeling a lot more confident.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers businesses and community members tips on how to prepare for and respond to wildfires via the organization’s Website. “The threat of wildland fires for people living near wildland areas or using recreational facilities in wilderness areas is real,” according to the site’s Wildfire homepage. “Dry conditions at various times of the year and in various parts of the United States greatly increase the potential for wildland fires.”

The site says that advance planning and knowing how to protect buildings in wildfire-prone areas can lessen the devastation of a fire.

“There are several safety precautions that you can take to reduce the risk of fire losses,” FEMA reported. “Protecting your home from wildfire is your responsibility. To reduce the risk, you’ll need to consider the fire resistance of your home, the topography of your property, and the nature of the vegetation close by.”

FEMA’s wildfire tips include:

  • Prepare for a wildfire, including finding out what your fire risk is, creating safety zones around your property, and protecting your property
  • What to do before a wildfire, including before the fire approaches your property and preparing to leave
  • What to do during a wildfire, including survival in a vehicle, if you are trapped in your property, or if you are caught in the open
  • What to do after a wildfire, including maintaining a “fire watch” to check for smoke or sparks throughout the property.

For more information about the Arizona wildfire, visit: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/06/14/20110614arizona-fires-wallow-fire-largest-arizona-fire.html

For FEMA recommendations on fire safety, visit: http://www.fema.gov/hazard/wildfire/index.shtm