FRENCHTOWN — A crew from the Frenchtown Rural Fire Department was hard at work Monday, thinning trees, and cleaning brush and debris as wildfire season draws closer.
“We are removing the vegetation fuels, so trees and brush," said Wildland Fire Hazard Fuels Mitigation Crew Foreman Ben Murphy. "By removing that we’re hoping to reduce fire intensity around here, and where people live.”
Looking ahead, afternoon temperatures well into the 80s and 90s coupled with very little opportunity for a rain event will dry out fuels quickly. Murphy says homeowners in wooded areas need to prepare their homes now.
“Starting right now, we’re starting to dry out, it’s starting to get crackly in the woods, now is the time for sure for that, for that kind of last-minute seasonal prep that you might be thinking about doing.”
Murphy added that it’s important to move as much of that debris and clutter as you can from within 30 feet of your home to help prevent those fires that start from embers flying in from above.
“What I really recommend for folks is to focus on what we call the home ignition zone, keeping your roof clean, and your gutters clean of pine needles, keeping your yard as green as possible," he explained. "Don’t let vegetation to grow up under decks, and porches, and eaves. This would be a good time to move that stack of lumber that you’ve got hiding under your deck to keep dry, that’s the kind of thing that can catch on fire and cause problems quickly."
He added that raking up pine needles around the home are helpful in reducing the risk of home fires. With August and September forecasted to be warmer and drier than average, taking these preventative steps now, could save your home in the event of a wildfire in your area.
The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation has additional information on preparing for wildfire season on its website.