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This Week is Wildfire Awareness Week - Day 3

Wildfire Preparedness

Day 3: Prepare Your Property for Wildfire Season

It’s Day 3 of Wildfire Awareness Week. FireSafe Montana, Keep Montana Green, the Governor’s Office of Community Service, the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and Montana Red Cross have joined forces to raise awareness this week about wildfire safety. Please join us in our statewide effort to help you and your family plan and prepare for wildfire season, and to prevent wildfires in your community.

"Preparing your home for wildfire season may seem overwhelming, but even small actions will add up. Every step you take to remove a possible ignition source around your home increases your security and overall resiliency." Jennifer LaManna, FireSafe Montana.

On day 3 of our campaign, we invite you to take a closer look at the many things you can do to protect your property from wildfire this summer. Studies show that as many as 80 percent of the homes lost to wildland fires could have been saved if their owners had only followed a few simple fire-safe practices. Here are a few tips to get you started:

If you live next to a wildland area, make sure you create and sustain a “survivable space” around your home, a buffer zone of at least a 200-foot radius. When evaluating the area surrounding the home, consider the terrain. Steep slopes, canyons, saddles, and southern aspects generally increase fire behavior and, depending on where the house is constructed, greater distance between the home and forest fuels may be required. Remember that the goal is not to eliminate fire, but to decrease the chance of fire destroying a home. As you evaluate you property divide it into 3 concentric zones:

In Zone 1—the area that is 0-30 feet around your home—start with the following:

  • Remove any branches within 10 feet of your home, including those overhanging a roof or deck.
  • Remove “ladder fuels,” or low-level vegetation and branches that allow fire to climb into the trees, by pruning lower branches up to 6-10 feet from the ground.
  • Place firewood, propane tanks or other combustible materials at least 30 feet away.
  • Keep grasses and lawns short and irrigated. When landscaping, plant fire-adapted species native to your area.
  • Maintain a non-combustible 3-5 foot perimeter around your home
  • In Zone 2—30-100 feet around your home—start with the following:

  • Thin trees to keep crowns a minimum of 10 feet apart or create “islands” of brush or 2-3 trees to create breaks in the forest fuels.
  • Remove “ladder fuels”.
  • Keep grasses and wildflowers under 8 inches in height.
  • Remove some of the excessive heavy woody debris, like logs or fallen trees.
  • Create fire breaks with driveways, stone patios, or walkways
  • In Zone 3—100-200 feet around your home or to your property line—start with the following:

  • Thin trees to keep crowns a minimum of 10 feet apart, or create “islands” of 2-3 trees.
  • “Remove “ladder fuels.
  • Remove dead trees and shrubs.
  • To see an image of the 3 zones of survivable space, visit the firewise website.

    Share this information and encourage your neighbors to take the same steps. Work with your community members to look at the area outside your yard and property to treat a larger area. The cumulative efforts of individuals will lead to a better protected and fire-adapted community.

    For more information on how to prepare your property from wildfires, please go to:

    MSU extension for native plants

    To have important wildfire safety information at your fingertips, download the free Red Cross Wildfire App at You can also download the Red Cross’s free First Aid and Shelter apps there.