MISSOULA, Mont. — It’s only April, but already several controlled burns and even some campfires have gotten out of hand in western Montana.
Wildfire risk remains low, but it’s never too early to prepare your property for wildfire season.
“The risk is there, and there are steps that a homeowner can take to reduce their chance of losing their home,” DNRC community preparedness and fire prevention specialist Kristin Mortenson said.
Mortenson says Missoula County has 16,000 homes in areas of moderate to high hazard due to wildfires, and not enough are getting assessed ahead of the season.
“It has been fairly steady at about 200 a year. Since 2016, in the Missoula County area and including some in Ravalli County and Mineral County, we've had about 800 home assessments that we've completed,” said Mortenson.
Experts check the home's siding, deck, windows and roofing. Officials say you should have double-paned windows and asphalt shingles.
They also evaluate exterior features that are in the 5-foot perimeter around the home. That includes patio furniture, vegetation and anything that could be flammable.
One thing they stress is to check your gutters for pine needle buildup or get gutter shields to prevent it. They also add it’s important to maintain trees on your property and keep trees 12 feet from each other.
For many homeowners in rural areas like Huson, it takes the community working together to limit the risks. Homeowners tell us their preparations didn’t happen overnight, but officials can help you get started.
“We've got a mitigation crew for Frenchtown Fire, we've received some grants this year, and so we work on developing a plan with homeowners coming up and working with the homeowner on mitigating their property,” Frenchtown Rural Fire District spokesman Mel Holtz said.
If you would like to get your home assessed, you can click here.