Walla Walla County Gets Prepared with Wildfire Ready Neighbors Launch
News Date: 
April 17, 2024

New initiative connects residents with free resources, experts, and tools to get property ready for wildfire season.

With fire season fast approaching, representatives from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Walla Walla County Fire District No. 4, Commissioner Gunner Fulmer and Representative Mark Klicker joined residents for a Wildfire Ready Neighbors kick-off event in Walla Walla County to raise awareness about the importance of wildfire preparedness.
Walla Walla County has faced significant wildfire danger, such as the 2015 Blue Creek fire, which burned over 4 thousand acres and posed a threat to the Mill Creek Watershed just 10 miles away from Walla Walla. In 2023, the Oasis Fire burned over 4 thousand acres in Walla Walla County, forcing evacuations while threatening homes, agriculture, and infrastructure.
“By investing in prevention efforts like ‘Wildfire Ready Neighbors,’ we not only save lives and resources, but also foster a safer and more resilient Walla Walla County,” said Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz. “This initiative also gives communities the tools they need to make sure everyone is working together to be better prepared for wildfire.”
Wildfire Ready Neighbors provides access to local experts and free resources that help residents or property owners learn how to reduce wildfire risk through simple actions such as removing flammable brush, cleaning roofs and gutters, and creating defensible space around their homes.
“Walla Walla County residents can also get information about more intensive steps, such as hardening their homes to fire by using more fire-resistant building materials and installing screening vents to block embers,” said Walla Walla County Fire District No. 4, Chief Rocky Eastman. “We all share the responsibility to prevent fire.”
Washington State Rep. Mark Klicker, R-Walla Walla, expressed confidence in Walla Walla County’s preparedness measures.
“I am excited to be a part of Wildfire Ready Neighbors,” Klicker said. “This initiative builds upon existing efforts to encourage community engagement with renters, homeowners, and small forest landowners. Even if you do not live on the property full time, you are eligible to participate. Together, we can build a resilient community capable of withstanding wildfires.”
The program is available to all Washington residents and has launched in 11 counties to date: Chelan, Okanogan, Spokane, Stevens, Yakima, Kittitas, Thurston, Klickitat, Mason, and Pierce. Staff and experts from DNR and partner organizations have worked with 5,000 Wahington residents to complete 30,000 preparedness actions since 2021.
“Wildfire Ready Neighbors is proving that we are stronger in Walla Walla County when we work together,” said Walla Walla County District 3 Commissioner Gunner Fulmer. “The actions residents are taking through this initiative are meaningful improvements. When every individual in a neighborhood takes these steps, they add up to create a neighborhood that’s more protected from wildfires.”
Walla Walla 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 and contractors 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.
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/
Lauren Padgett
Communications Manager
Cell: 564-999-3775