Follow Us

Members Login
Not registered? Sign-Up!

Karl Newman, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Director     
NW Insurance Council    
Phone: (503) 465-6800/(800) 664-4942
Fax: (206) 624-1975
Follow at Twitter/nwinsuranceinfo

Disaster Preparedness Resources

Cle Elum wildfire a grim reminder to take action and evaluate insurance

SEATTLE - A wildfire raging in the Cle Elum area has burned an estimated 26,000 acres and destroyed 60 homes, according to fire officials. Tuesday morning the fire was uncontained and continued to threaten structures and properties. The devastation is a grim reminder for homeowners and business owners at risk of wildfire to take action to protect your properties and make sure you have adequate insurance.

"The loss of life and property from wildfires is tragic," said Karl Newman, president of the NW Insurance Council. "The good news is that wildfire is covered by Home and Business Insurance policies and you can reduce your risk dramatically by taking simple precautions."

In 2011, 993 fires burned 17,480 acres in Washington, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Nationally, wildfires scorched more than 8 million acres and caused $855 million in insured losses.

Weather reports for the week expect continued hot and arid conditions, giving property and business owners reason to be concerned. NW Insurance Council offers tips to help residents protect their families and businesses:

  • Defensible Spacing- Clear brush 30 to 100 feet from your home. Keep your yard well groomed and watered and remove old stumps and weak or diseased trees from your property. Create a buffer zone by landscaping with fire-resistant plants. Contact your local utility company if you notice tree branches touching power lines.
  • Review your insurance policy - Contact a representative from your insurance company or your insurance agent to be sure you have the right coverage to meet your needs. Make sure you have the appropriate amount of insurance, especially if you've recently made additions to your home.
  • Fireproof your rooftop - The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home when it comes to fires. Replace wood-shake roofs with less flammable material, when possible. Keep roofs and gutters clear of needles and leaves.
  • Home exterior precautions - Install screens on chimneys, stovepipes and attic openings. Trim trees that overhang the home to prevent fire in trees from easily spreading to the roof of the house. Keep flammable materials like fuel tanks at least 30 feet away from the home.
  • Be accessible and visible - Make sure your house number is visible from the street. If firefighters can't find you, they can't help you.
  • Home interior precautions - Consider installing a home sprinkler system. Replace batteries in smoke detectors in every room of your home at least twice each year.
  • Develop an emergency preparedness plan - Gather and store a three-day supply of food and water, First Aid supplies, flashlights and a portable radio.
  • Maintain a complete home inventory - Keep copies of contracts and receipts of your personal possessions in a safe place outside of your home. Take pictures or video of your belongings. Your home inventory can help you and your adjuster settle your claim if your home is damaged or destroyed by wildfire. Free, downloadable Home Inventory Software is available on the Insurance Information Institute's website.

To learn more about safeguarding your home and business from wildfire, The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) offers a free Wildfire Retrofit Guide for the Pacific Northwest. Also, order a free copy of NW Insurance Council's brochure, Firestorm - Northwest Wildfires: Protect Yourself by calling (800) 664-4942 or email

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.