urging homeowners to
prepare for 2001 fire season

May 3, 2001
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

Helena, Mont. Fire season 2000 impacted Montanan's statewide as nearly 1 million acres of forest and grassland were burned.Additionally, 321 structures, 86 primary residences, 133 outbuildings and 2 commercial buildings were destroyed. The impacts of last summer's fires are still being felt as we near the upcoming fire season.

In anticipation, the Department of Natural Resources & Conservation (DNRC) and Department of Emergency Services (DES) are urging homeowners to take the precautionary steps now, in preparation for the summer fire season, with firewise landscaping and defensible zone activities on and around their homes.

Defensible space and firewise landscaping can create a line of defense against the threat of wildfire by creating a safety zone around a home.The goal is to break the chain of flammable fuels between the home and the surrounding forest. Defensible space reduces the wildfire threat by changing the characteristics of the adjacent vegetation.

"Fire season 2001 has already begun and we are urging people now to begin working around their homes to create defensible space," stated DNRC Fire Prevention Specialist, D.C. Haas.

"Now is the time of year when people take tools in hand and begin working in their yards. We are asking people to work not only in their yards but also on their property." According to Haas, there are many steps that homeowners can take now, such as cleaning roofs and gutters of debris, that make a big difference should a home be threatened by a wildfire."As summer 2001 draws nearer, it is imperative those homeowners that live in the urban interface, or areas near forests, take precautionary steps to prevent a wildfire from destroying their home," stated Haas.

For more information about preparing your home for the upcoming fire season, log onto the following websites: dnrc.state.mt.us, keepgreen.org, firewise.org, or extension.unr.edu/fire/frontpage.html.

Or contact your local DNRC office, USDA Forest Service office or fire department.