Communities urged to prepare homes for wildfire risk - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Communities urged to prepare homes for wildfire risk

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KALISPELL - Living in northwest Montana comes with the uncertainty of living in a region susceptible to wildfires. If a wildfire were to come down on top your home, have you prepared to make it more resistant to embers and heat?

Officials say now is the time.

When the Sprague Fire damaged the Sperry Chalet and threatened the Lake McDonald Lodge, homeowners in the gated-community of Glacier Hills just a few miles from Glacier National Park braced.

They feared that a wind shift could have brought the fire down on top of their homes, but homeowners were prepared. Some 92% of the 16 homes in the community were assessed with recommendations on how to reduce fuels and create action plans in 2014.

Around a home, it is recommended the first four feet consists of non-combustible material, like stone, up against a non-combustible surface like hard-board siding. If embers were to land the goal is to have nothing for them to be able to burn.

On top of preparing their homes to be fire safe the community of Glacier Hills also contracted a company to help them reduce the fuels in the forest surrounding their homes.

"When we come in to break up a forest you have got latter fuels. You've got the fuels that start from the ground and go all the way to the tree canopy," said Safelands Forestry owner Tai Foley.

"The latter fuels in between, the branches, the small trees, things like that that can carry the flames to the ground all the way up to the canopy and can continue down into a crown fire. So what I'm looking to do is break up those fuels," Foley added.

The community also cleared brush to provide a buffer zone between roads and vegetation, instituted helicopter landing sites and identified ponds and reservoirs firefighters could use as water resources.

For information on making your home fire safe, contact the Montana DNRC or find more information online

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