Wildfire recovery resources
Online resources for repairs
Online resources for rebuilding
Note: After a wildfire, the flood risk increases significantly. Normally, rainfall is absorbed by vegetation and soils, reducing runoff. However, wildfires remove vegetation and may leave soil unable to absorb water, creating flash flood conditions. Flood risk remains significantly higher until vegetation is restored—up to five years after a wildfire. Residents and business owners need to protect their homes and assets from the devastating financial losses from a flood, especially after a wildfire, before the next weather event occurs.
Fire insurance policies and financial resources
Personal health and safety
Personal safety tips from the AIA Disaster Assistance Committee:
If you live in a fire prone area
The National Weather Service issues Red Flag Warnings meaning warm temperatures, very low humidities, and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger. Pay close attention to these warnings and during these times especially:
- If you are allowed to burn in your area, all burn barrels must be covered with a weighted metal cover, with holes no larger than 3/4 of an inch.
- Do not throw cigarettes or matches out of a moving vehicle. They may ignite dry grass on the side of the road and become a wildfire.
- Extinguish all outdoor fires properly. Drown fires with plenty of water and stir to make sure everything is cold to the touch. Dunk charcoal in water until cold. Do not throw live charcoal on the ground and leave it.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Sparks or embers can blow into leaves or grass, ignite a fire, and quickly spread.
During the time a wildfire is in your area
Fire weather watch = dangerous fire weather conditions are possible over the next 12 to 72 hours
- Stay aware of the latest news and updates from your local media and fire department. Get your family, home and pets prepared to evacuate. Have two evacuation routes pre-planned in case one is blocked.
- Place your emergency supply kit and other valuables in your vehicle.
- Move patio or deck furniture, cushions, door mats and potted plants in wooden containers either indoors or as far away from the home, shed and garage as possible.
- Close and protect your home’s openings, including attic and basement doors and vents, windows, garage doors and pet doors to prevent embers from penetrating your home.
- Fireplace flue boxes need to be closed. Eave attic and underfloor vents must be covered. Ensure all windows are closed and locked to prevent opening.
- Connect garden hoses and fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs, or other large containers with water. Firefighters have been known to use the hoses to put out fires on rooftops.
- If you see a wildfire and haven't received evacuation orders yet, call 911. Don't assume that someone else has already called.
- Leave as early as possible, before you’re told to evacuate. Do not linger once evacuation orders have been given. Promptly leaving your home and neighborhood clears roads for firefighters to get equipment in place to fight the fire, and helps ensure residents’ safety.
- Decide on a pre-established meeting location and out of area contact person in case of separation.
- Stay tuned to local media, verified social media and emergency notification systems.
After a wildfire has been contained
- Continue to listen to news updates for information about the fire. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
- Visit FEMA/Ready.gov for more information regarding wildfire after an emergency.
Returning home and recovering after a wildfire
- Do not enter your home until fire officials say it is safe.
- For several hours after the fire, maintain a "fire watch." Check and re-check for smoke, sparks or hidden embers throughout the house, including the roof and the attic.
- Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning.
- Avoid damaged or fallen power lines, poles and downed wires.
- Watch for ash pits and mark them for safety—warn family and neighbors to keep clear of the pits also.
- Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets’ paws or hooves.
- Follow public health guidance on safe cleanup of fire ash and safe use of masks.
- Wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles.
- Wear leather gloves and heavy soled shoes to protect hands and feet.
- Cleaning products, paint, batteries and damaged fuel containers need to be disposed of properly to avoid risk.
Cleaning your home
- Wear a NIOSH certified-respirator (dust mask) and wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles.
- Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
- Do not use water that you think may be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, or to make ice or baby formula.
- Photograph damage to your property for insurance purposes. There are applications available to time stamp photos, which is beneficial for insurance claims.
As you rebuild
- Obtain information from local authorities about defensible space requirements.
- Clear 30 feet of space around your home of vegetation.
- Store firewood at least 30 feet away from your home.
- Clear debris off the roof, out of the gutters and away from air conditioning units.
- Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. Hardwood trees, for example, are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.
- Use vegetation that is resistant to fire, and is found naturally in the area. Do not import vegetation.
- Equip chimneys and stovepipes with a spark arrester that meets the requirements of NFPA 211, a specific standard for chimney fire safety.
- Install 1/2-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to your floors, roof and attic.
Ask a professional to
- Select and install fire-resistant roofing, siding and other building materials.
- Install or develop an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool or hydrant.
- Install freeze-proof exterior water outlets on at least two sides of the home and near other structures on the property. Install additional outlets at least 50 feet from the home.