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Nearly 70,000 U.S. Communities At Risk As Wildfire Season Approaches

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As wildfires burn across the western United States, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Ad Council launch new public service ads (PSAs) targeting homeowners and community members in fire-prone areas. The new PSAs represent the continuation of the Fire Adapted Communities initiative which raises awareness about the threat of wildfire and helps individuals and communities mitigate wildfire damage.

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Nearly 70,000 communities nationwide are at risk from wildfire, according to the National Association of State Foresters. For the last 12 years an average of 6.9 million acres burned each year. Wildfires put lives at risk and cost government, businesses and individuals billions of dollars each year in suppression costs and damage to homes, infrastructure, the economy and resources.

"Homes and communities don't have to burn. There are proven tools and programs to help communities to adapt to wildfire and successfully live with fire in the environment," said U. S. Forest Service Fire Adapted Communities program manager Pam Leschak. "Everyone has a part in helping to keep their community safe."

A single ember that escapes from a wildfire can travel over a mile. New PSAs created pro bono by Draftfcb highlight the risk these embers pose to homes, structures and communities and remind audiences that you can't control where an ember will land, but you can control what happens when it does. Community members are encouraged to take simple, proactive steps to protect their families and neighbors by preparing in advance and addressing the wildfire hazards around their homes and in their communities.  

"The  Fire Adapted Communities initiative remains a hugely important mission and we're always ready to help in getting the word out," said Eric Springer, CCO of Draftfcb O.C./L.A. "Our latest campaign will draw people in and make them realize there are plenty of simple solutions to saving their homes and communities from the risk of wildfires. It's always the small choices that have major impact."

Communities can adapt to wildfire by collaboratively developing and implementing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, creating defensible space around buildings, treating fuels in and near the community, using fire resistant building materials, designating safe zones, avoiding development in the highest risk areas and working with local first responders. The new PSAs highlight the importance of defensible space and the hazards around a home, reminding viewers that the key to reducing wildfire damage is taking the right actions to prepare in advance.

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