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Four neighborhoods join the ranks of local Firewise communities

Residents of Sunday Drive Firewise community post their new Firewise sign. Sunday Drive is one of four new Firewise communities in San Juan County.  - Ron Garner
Residents of Sunday Drive Firewise community post their new Firewise sign. Sunday Drive is one of four new Firewise communities in San Juan County.
— image credit: Ron Garner

The Boyce Road, University Heights, and Sunday Drive communities have been awarded Firewise status, becoming the latest communities on San Juan Island to join the Firewise program.

Those neighborhoods met the requirements of educational meetings, community assessments and work projects to earn this national recognition. San Juan Island has 28 Firewise communities with two more applying for membership. Orcas Island has two with a third one preparing to join.

Counting the ones that are applying, San Juan County has 33 Firewise Communities, more than half the total for the state of Washington.

The fourth community, Johns Island, was also accepted into the program. This makes it the first non-ferry served island in the county to have a Firewise community. "Since they are not served by a fire department, this is a crucial step in protecting themselves from wildfire," Firewise Coordinator Ron Garner said.

Through the fire department's observations and the Department of Natural Resources evaluations, there are several communities that could benefit from organizing Firewise communities, Garner said.

"Organizing a Firewise community, which is free and voluntary, brings neighbors together to do projects that will help protect the community from wildfire. All communities could benefit by joining the program and several areas, such as Hannah Road area, south side of Little Mountain and Cady Mountain areas, need a leader to help the fire department to start the program."

Fire officials say it is not a question of whether the island will have major fire, but when. The island had a quarter-acre fire on the south side of Little Mountain that threatened more than 100 properties. "Fortunately, the department was able to contain the fire before it got away," Garner said. "Joining the Firewise program gives you a fighting chance."

For more information about the program, call Garner at 378-7722 or call the Fire Department at 378-5334.

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