Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - After a very dry winter, wildfire specialists are warning those living in the ‘wildland-urban interface’ to be especially careful to prepare for the upcoming wildfire season.

I spoke with Taylor Blakely, Engineer Paramedic and Wildland Fire Program Coordinator with the Missoula Rural Fire District about important tips on keeping homes and properties safe from wildfire.

Living in the Wildland Urban Interface Brings Wildfire Danger

“The most important thing is to take a look right next to your home,” began Blakely. “We call it the ‘home ignition zone’. A lot of homes are burning now due to ‘ember storms’, not so much direct flame contact but with ‘ember storms’. Those embers are going to land in the same spots that pine needles and leaves will eddy throughout the year so if you can take a walk around your home and find those areas, that's where those embers are going to land.”

Blakely said there are three distinct zones that require preparation for fire season.

There are Three Distinct Zones to Consider for your Property

“There are three main zones; the home ignition zone, then zero to 30 feet, and 30 feet and beyond,” he said. “What you want to do is look; now, we're not looking for a moonscape. People live in the trees for a reason. But you can give your home a chance by simple things like spreading out the canopy spacing of the trees. So if you have a group of 10 trees, maybe cutting half of those out to give them some more space.”

Blakely said knowing your property will help to mitigate the chance of fire.

“As you can decrease the chance of a fire going from the surface into the canopy by removing ladder fuels, so the lower branches of trees, any bushes that have grown up underneath trees, you can remove those and that'll decrease the likelihood of a fire going from the surface into the canopy which will then in turn, decrease the amount of ember wash that your home will receive,” he said. “If we can, we must prevent the torching of any of those trees.”

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Fire Officials will do a 'Walk-Through' of Your Property

Blakely said experts from the fire departments and the DNRC will be happy to do a ‘walk-through’ of your property to point out any areas of concern.

“We'll start with the low-hanging fruit, things like cleaning up needles, but we'll even talk about changing the siding from cedar shake to less combustible material or the roofing,” he said. “Those are big projects and we understand that, but we're going to advise you on all areas of wildfire preparedness for your home.”

Click below for the Wildfire Preparedness Guide.

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