Recent statistics say this year Colorado has had 257 wildland fires, burning 138,774 acres.
Greeley, Colo., August 18, 2011 - If you live in a high-risk, fire-prone area you might believe wildland firefighters are your home’s best defense in the event your community is involved in a wildfire. The truth is that you are the best line of defense. That’s why it is important for all homeowners to take steps to protect their property and make sure they are adequately insured.
Contrary to popular belief wildland firefighters are not responsible for protecting all structures. That is left to the owner, according to Don Smurthwaite, communications chief at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho, “If firefighters are standing at the bottom of two properties and looking at the best opportunity to safely suppress a wildland fire, the home that has a defensible space and easy access makes their choice much easier,” Smurthwaite said.
According to the NIFC nearly every state in the U.S. has already experienced a wildfire this year. To date 47,951 wildfires across the nation have burned 6.36 million acres, which is roughly six times as many acres as the same time period last year. The NIFC reports, as of mid-June, Colorado has already had 257 wildland fires, which had burned 138,774 acres.
“It’s been a tough year for our customers in these wildfire areas,” said State Farm spokeswoman Angela Thorpe. “People buy insurance to protect them from things like this, and we take very seriously our role to be there for our customers in their time of need. Sometimes insurance is the last thing on people’s mind until they need it, but it’s important for everyone to regularly review their coverage.”
Thorpe recommends people review their homeowner’s insurance policy annually and meet with their agent, especially if they’ve made changes to their home.Homeowners should consider if their home were destroyed whether the coverage amount they have selected would be enough to cover the cost to replace their home, personal belongings, and other property structures.
“There is often a significant difference between the market price of a home and what it would cost to rebuild it,” emphasized Thorpe. “It’s ultimately the homeowner’s responsibility to determine how much insurance coverage they need, but we recommend they check with a local builder for advice, along with their insurance agent.”
Another important way to protect a home from a wildfire is to remove or reduce the potential fuel within a 100-feet safety zone around the home (or up to 200 feet if the home is located in a high-risk area):
It’s also important for homeowners to document their belongings by creating a home inventory. By keeping an accurate inventory and proof of ownership in a safe place off the premises homeowners can make the claim settlement easier and faster.
“We can all make improvements to better prepare for wildfire when we take action and appreciate the fact that we are the best defense against a wildfire. Remember some good places to start include making sure the home is insured to 100 percent of its replacement cost, taking steps to create a safety zone around the home, and by completing a home inventory,” Thorpe concluded.
Angela Thorpe, State Farm Insurance (303) 264-1560.
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