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Image by Matt Chesin


Wildfires are among Orange County’s leading disasters because the terrain is prone to brush fires in the hot summer months when vegetation is dry. They most frequently start in natural areas like forests, grasslands or prairies.


As many as 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by people, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. Some human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, downed power lines, negligently discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10 percent are started by lightning or lava.


According to Verisk’s 2019 Wildfire Risk Analysis 4.5 million U.S. homes were identified at high or extreme risk of wildfire. According to latest Verisk estimates, in California, there were more than 2 million properties at high to extreme wildfire risk in 2021, the largest number of properties of any U.S. state. Residents in all sections of the county should take steps to make their homes less vulnerable to wildfires.

  • Have several ways to receive alerts. Download the FEMA app and receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Sign up for community alerts in your area and be aware of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA), which requires no-sign up.

  • Consider retrofitting your home with ignition resistant features that can mean the difference between a few repairs and a complete rebuild after a fire. 

  • Clear vegetation in a 100-foot radius around your home, make sure the garden hose can reach any room and cover your chimney, vents and rain gutters with metal mesh or screens to prevent embers from spreading.

  • You may have to evacuate quickly due to a wildfire. Learn your evacuation routes, practice with household, pets and identify where you will go.

  • Have enough supplies for your household, including a first aid kit, in your go bag or car trunk. You may have to evacuate quickly, and won't be able to grab everything you might need if you haven't prepared in advance.

  • Keep your cell phone charged when wildfires could be in your area. Purchase backup charging devices to power electronics.

Image by Michael Held
Preparing for Wildfires
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Fires spread quickly and can devastate not only wildlife and natural areas, but also communities.


Annual Number of Acres Burned Nationally in Wildland Fires, 1980-2020

Source: National Interagency Fire Center.

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