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Fire mitigation season underway in Montana

Posted at 7:54 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-18 22:07:57-05

HELENA – Fire mitigation experts say now is the time to start preparing your property for potential wildfires even with the snow and freezing temperatures.

“Now is a good time to start the planning process,” said Pat McKelvey, project manager for Tri-County FireSafe Working Group.

Fire mitigation season “officially” kicked off February 13 but the Tri-County Fire-Safe Working Group say it’s really a year-round activity.

“I mean it’s no secret. Fires are getting bigger, hotter, the fire season is getting longer and there’s a lot more structures at risk,” said McKelvey. “There’s been a lot of building going on in the state of Montana and much of that is in the wildland-urban interface.“

Prescribed Burns
Crews work to execute a prescribed burn near Roundup on Tuesday. (MTN News photo)

McKelvey asks people to take a look around their property and develop a planning process for when they can get out and take fire mitigation steps.

  • A safety zone should be created around the home by keeping pine needles, weeds and other debris 10 feet from the building. Brush should be cleared at least 30 feet.
  • People should also have an evacuation strategy with the entire family in case a fire threatens the area they live in.
  • Designate an emergency meeting location, have several escape routes, and plan for pets and any large animals that might be on the property.

Tri-County Fire-Safe Work Group offer free home ignition zone assessments to anyone that needs help.

“That would set the tone for if you need a project or not. And if you need some assistance with that, certainly we can come out and help,” said McKelvey.

Tri-County Fire-Safe also recommends homeowner associations to get in contact with them now to start developing vegetation management and evacuation plans.

“If you’re thinking about doing a project get an application from us and get it in,” recommended McKelvey.

Click here to learn more about wildfire prevention and preparedness from the Montana Department of Natural  Resources and Conservation.

-John Riley reporting for MTN News