SEATTLE -

 As wildfires burn hundreds of homes and thousands of square miles across the West, fire experts say simple actions like clearing brush around a home or removing pine needles from decks could make the difference in whether a house survives or burns to the ground.

Fire science research over the last decade has confirmed techniques that can reduce the chance of a home igniting. Fire officials are trying to spread the word in wildfire-prone areas that these little things are hugely important.

Property owners can reduce their risk of wildfire damage by choosing metal roofs over wood shake roofs, for example, as well as maintaining trees and shrubs, keeping flammable materials such as firewood piles away from the home, spacing trees farther apart and by clearing brush from nearby roads.