BOZEMAN – Wildfires can cause major property damage, but there are preventative measures homeowners can take starting now.

The better prepared a home is the more likely it is to be saved in a wildfire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, defensible houses have a 100-foot radius of mowed grass, trimmed tree branches and other branches not touching the home.

Creating a family evacuation plan is a good idea which includes knowing how and where to evacuate, where everyone will meet after an evacuation and what to take from the home.

Forest and wildfires can be caused organically in nature, but they can also be caused by wilderness mistakes such as not fully putting out campfires.

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‘”The things that we want to make sure that people understand is that their houses are defensible. If there’s a situation where a fire comes through the area, we’ll do what’s called triage where we’ll go check out every house,” Fort Ellis Fire Department Fire Chief Mike Cech advised.

The NFPA offers the following safety advice on their website:

  • Plants should be carefully spaced, low-growing and free of resins, oils and waxes that burn easily.
  • Mow the lawn regularly. Prune trees up six to ten feet from the ground.
  • Space conifer trees 30 feet between crowns. Trim back trees that overhang the house.
  • Create a ‘fire-free’ area within five feet of the home, using non-flammable landscaping materials and/or high-moisture-content annuals and perennials.
  • Remove dead vegetation from under deck and within 10 feet of house.
  • Consider fire-resistant material for patio furniture, swing sets, etc.
  • Remove firewood stacks and propane tanks; they should not be located in this zone.
  • Water plants, trees and mulch regularly.

MTN Reporter:  Lena Blietz