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'Wildfire Ready Neighbors' program kicks off second year

The free program gives people the tools they need to protect themselves from wildfires.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Department of Natural resources kicked off a second year of the “Wildfire Ready Neighbors” program on Tuesday. It's a free program that gives people the tools to protect themselves from wildfires. 

Bonnie Cobb has lived at her home in Nine Mile Falls since she was two years old. With roots that deep, she is determined to protect the home she loves so dearly. 

It wasn't long ago when she watched the 1991 firestorm destroy part of her home. 

“We were home and had no idea what was happening," Cobb said. "The fire actually came up out of the canyon and jumped over the top of us and took out all of our outbuildings. So basically, all of our fences are gone."

Cobb is now a Community Captain in the 'Wildfire Ready Neighbor’s' Program through the Washington Department of Natural Resources. 

The program gives homeowners, renters and small forest landowners the resources and tools to help protect themselves from wildfires.  

"Once you get one neighbor doing it, then pretty soon the next neighbor starts doing it and it's just kind of a domino effect," Cobb said. "And when you get a whole community, it's defensible space. It's safer for the firefighters. It's safer for the homeowners, and it saves a lot of insurance money. So it's just a win-win for everybody.” 

She joined Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz in kicking off a second year of the program in Spokane County on Tuesday.  

“Too often we wait until wildfire is at our door when we ask for help or when we try to take steps to protect ourselves," Franz said. "Every single home in Washington state and in Spokane County can take action right now today to get ready for this fire season and the next fire season.” 

Following an assessment, a wildfire expert determined that Cobb's home is wildfire ready. She’s done a lot of work to get here. The house has a metal roof, the trees are a safe distance from the home and limbs are trimmed up high.  

At no cost, anyone can get the same consultation with an expert who can create a plan to prepare their home for wildfires.  

“We are proving through wildfire ready neighbors that we are absolutely stronger when we work together,” Franz said. 

Cobb is glad her home has a chance against wildfires. And she encourages her neighbors to take the same action. That way, as a community, they can feel safe and watch their own trees continue to grow.  

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