Fueling action: San Juan County gets prepared with Wildfire Ready Neighbors launch

Submitted by the Washington Department of National Resources

Representatives from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) joined San Juan County fire district partners, emergency management, the National Park Service, and San Juan Islands Conservation District on Wednesday for the local launch of Wildfire Ready Neighbors – an initiative to help bolster community preparedness ahead of wildfire season.

“We’re excited to bring this much needed resource to San Juan County because no one is immune from the impacts of wildfire,” said Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz. “The San Juan Islands face a unique challenge as they are a designated wildland-urban interface, where our homes and development intersect with undeveloped and often dry wildland, creating a dangerous situation. With the population steadily growing, the time to make our homes wildfire ready is now.”

Through Wildfire Ready Neighbors, residents and property owners can get a free custom plan and schedule one-on-one meetings with experts to learn how to reduce fire risk through simple yet impactful actions like removing flammable brush, cleaning roofs and gutters, and creating defensible space around their homes.

Residents can also get information about more intensive steps such as hardening their homes to fire by using more resistant building materials and installing screening vents to block embers.

“Wildfire Ready Neighbors builds upon established efforts, fostering increased community engagement,” said Paul Andersson, executive director of the San Juan Islands Conservation District. “This initiative highlights the strength of collaboration between fire departments, local conservation districts, community organizations, and residents to create a more resilient San Juan County capable of confronting wildfire threats.”

Wildfire Ready Neighbors is already operational in 11 counties across Washington state. Staff and experts from DNR and partner organizations have worked with 5 thousand Washington residents to complete 30 thousand preparedness actions since 2021.

San Juan County residents can sign up today at WildfireReady.com to receive a free customized action plan, including steps they can take immediately and information about local resources to get them started. Residents can also request a free Wildfire Ready Home Visit where a wildfire expert will visit their property and develop a tailored action plan for wildfire preparedness.

In addition to the free resources offered through Wildfire Ready Neighbors, funding is also available through San Juan Islands Conservation District for neighborhood associations and communities that meet certain criteria.

Media members interested in footage and images from the press conference can find them here as they become available.

To learn more, visit: https://wildfireready.dnr.wa.gov/.