Wildfire remains a danger in urban areas as fast-moving blaze burns home in Yelm

YELM, Wash. – A fast-moving brush fire damaged one home and a couple sheds in rural Thurston County on Wednesday.

Firefighters were able to keep the damage to those structures, and a homeowner credits defensible space for keeping the rest of her neighborhood from going up in flames.

Jody Roache and her neighbor Deborah Ingram try to wrap their heads around just how close their neighborhood came to burning down.

“I looked out the window and just saw the flames coming,” said Ingram.

“It was just so fast, oh my gosh,” said Roache.

Roache says her home on Donovan Court Southeast is a total loss. While the fire burned through their living room and kitchen, the smoke and water damage ruined most everything else.

Firefighters say what happened in Yelm could just as easily happen in many other parts of Western Washington.

“As you can see around us we have a lot of trees, dry grass and we’ve got homes right up against them,” said Captain Kyle Ohashi with Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority.

To minimize the risk of wildfire reaching your house, firefighter say homeowners can water their lawns, clear away brush, create defensible space around homes and clean out your gutters.

“Look on the ground around your home,” said Ohashi. “Cutting back all the brush or shrubbery you have and making sure there’s space between them, 2-3 feet would be ideal.”

“I can’t think about what could have been,” said Roache. “I think I’m emotional because everybody’s OK.”

Roache will likely rebuild, and when she does she’ll remember how defensible space could minimize her risk if another fire sparks in her neighborhood.

“We’ve been here almost 19 years not a problem, but this year was so dry,” she said.