How to lower wildfire risk around your home


How to lower wildfire risk around your home 5-14-13

BOZEMAN, Mont. - Last year, the Mountain Top Retreat in South Cottonwood Canyon went through a scary experience.

"It's too late to do anything. You pack your belongings, you pack the things that matter the most, you get your family and you get ready if you have to leave," said Executive Director Ted Roth.

The Millie Fire swept in dangerously close, and they were evacuated. It's an experience the Forest Service said every Montanan should be ready for.

"Across Montana, we live in a fire landscape," said Marianne Baumberger, the Fire Information Officer and Education Technician for the Gallatin National Forest.

"Our hope was that in thinning this out," Roth said, "a fire that was crowning out would get knocked down."

He said Mountain Top Retreat prepared just a few years before, by thinning out the forest. He said they removed trees that were sick, susceptible to beetle kill, or commercially viable.

They also created a clearing in certain areas to act as a fire break.

According to the Fire Adapted Communities organization, it's important to take steps like creating a fire-free area around the perimeter of the house, and having a family preparedness plan.

"Make sure you have water, important documents," Baumberger said. "If something did happen to your home and you were evacuated, you would have those with you."

Other aspects- keeping the area near the house green, and replacing wood roofs with metal or asphalt.

Roth said the retreat stayed safe in the face of the Millie Fire, and they're prepared in case wildfire strikes again.

We looked for other tips for homeowners. A local insurance agent said to keep the roof, gutters, and chimneys clear of debris. Move combustible items away from your home, turn off all gas valves before leaving once evacuation orders are issued, move furniture away from windows and take down any flammable window treatments.

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