Wildfires are no longer a seasonal threat for the western United States. Over 21,000 wildfires have already burned 1.1 million acres throughout the United States this year.
A concerning percentage of central Montana remains in the extreme to exceptional drought category, especially when compare to this time last year. This will only elevate the rangeland fire and wildfire risk throughout the state during summer and fall. The good news is your home is not completely at the mercy of mother nature and there are simple, affordable ways to prepare your home in order too reduce home-ignition risk.
Research from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety show that a 0-5 foot noncombustible home ignition zone can reduce the risk of wildfire damage. Faraz Hedayati, a research scientist at IBHS, explains "Homeowners should remove all the combustibles from within 5 feet of their home. This can include vegetation, such as small shrubs, trees and other plants. Also, structures like sheds, storage or fences." Combustible fencing material, such as wood or plastic, should be replaced with noncombustible versions to prevent the fire from spreading to your home.
Creating this 0-5 foot noncombustible home ignition zone also means trimming trees close in proximity to your home. It is also important to collaborate with neighbors on trimming or removing tree branches. Trees with upper branches less than 10 feet of one another should be trimmed to reduce the likelihood of a fire spreading. This can help prevent the fire from spreading through your community.
A deck also poses hazards during wildfire season, especially with flammable items stored underneath. Faraz explains, "Embers fall between the gaps and ignite the material. We can have an under deck flame which is a very strong fire attack under the deck."
Keeping up with yard debris, particularly highly flammable pine needles or leaves, will be extremely important during the dry months. The fuels can become dry very quickly as wet season comes to a close.
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