Jefferson County, in partnership with several fire and other agencies, is mailing fire defense information to thousands of county residents who own property in rural areas, urging them to take steps to reduce the threat of destructive wildfires.
Others involved in the educational effort are the Oregon Department of Forestry, Lake Chinook Fire and Rescue, Crooked River Ranch Fire and Rescue, Jefferson County Fire District No. 1, Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, Sisters Camp Sherman Fire Department and the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office.
"We are mailing about 8,000 information packages to homeowners, which should arrive in a week," said Brian Huff, fire chief for Jefferson County Fire District No. 1.
"We hope owners will carefully consider the information, follow the six simple steps to help defend their property from wildfire, and also return the home certification form, which is included in the packet," he said.
"We live in a fire environment, but homeowners are not defenseless. Annual spring cleanup, pruning trees, cutting dead grass and removing flammables adjacent to buildings are simple steps that are easy to perform and can protect a home from embers that fall like snow in advance of a fire front," said Kevin Benton, unit forester with ODF.
Although the program has been highly successful in other areas and is enormously effective if a property is exposed to either a wildfire or adjacent structure fire, it is voluntary. Owners can choose to help or not - It is up to each individual property owner.
"Every year, fires threaten homes in Jefferson County," said Don Colfels, chief of Lake Chinook Fire and Rescue. "Even though this is a voluntary program, we are hopeful that owners will take our recommendations seriously, apply the fire prevention measures and return the certification form."
"We are always ready to fight fire and will do our best to defend lives, homes and resources," he said. "With the assistance of homeowners, we can substantially increase our chances of success."