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Disasters Happen: Be Prepared for Wildfires

By | Ready Marine Corps | September 24, 2018


Wildfires are a unique natural disaster: they can strike without warning, destroy acres of land in minutes and are almost always caused by human activity.

Wildfires depend on a trio of conditions, commonly referred to as the “fuel triangle”: fuel, oxygen and a starter. Fuel is often dry vegetation, such as dead grass, trees and other flammable materials. When fuel is present in abundant qualities during the warmer months, fires can spread quickly and engulf entire miles of land in only a few minutes. Oxygen in the air is a key part of the chemical reaction required for fire to continue burning, and winds can direct the fire’s trail. A starter can be anything from a firework gone astray, a lightning strike or a campfire left unattended.

How You Can Help

First, prepare emergency kits and consult the FEMA Wildfire Checklist for Homeowners. If possible, clear a 30-foot zone around your house of excess vegetation. Check with your local fire department to see if your trees are “fire unfriendly” species that are less flammable. Consider replacing dead trees with fire-resistant plants and shrubs such as these.

There is also an increased risk of floods following a wildfire due to the sudden lack of vegetation and fire damage to the soil. Check FEMA's Flood Map Service Center to see if your home is in a floodplain so you can plan accordingly. Consider purchasing flood insurance and check your current policy to ensure it covers wildfire damage. For more information, visit https://www.floodsmart.gov/.

Finally, if a wildfire does occur, follow your evacuation route and follow detours set by law enforcement. Check in with your family members using your emergency communication plan. Do not return home until local authorities have given the all-clear.

For more information, visit our page on wildfires, the U.S. Fire Administration webpage, or Ready.gov


Set your own course through any hazard: stay informed, make a plan, build a kit.
Live Ready Marine Corps.