Federal Funding Set to Provide Residents with Wildfire Mitigation

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by Russ Slaten

The potential for a wildfire is ever imminent in Alaska and to lessen the possibility of a wildfire reaching Anchorage, officials have offered the public an important program.

The Anchorage Fire Department will provide the program to homes prone to wildfires, but on a first-come first-serve basis.

The city's Firewise Home Assessment program aims to educate homeowners on ways to prevent brush fires from spreading to their homes. The fire department is taking appointments until federal funding is utilized.

Fire officials will provide on-site visits to homeowners living in neighborhoods exposed to wildfires. Financial assistance will be used to remove dead, beetle killed spruce and densely growing trees from private property.

The program reduces the likelihood of life and property loss if wildland fires were to reach the city.

Experts say the potential of a home igniting is determined by heat and fire fuel sources within 100 to 200 feet from the structure. Properly treating these fuels can reduce the severity of fire risk by limiting the sources for it to spread.

Anchorage Public Safety Committee Chair Paul Honeman says wildfires tend to be drawn to these fuels, and with homes far from the emergency responders, homeowners must learn to be relatively self-sufficient.

"There's an inclination for people to have that privacy, and really to be fire-wise in those environments, you should create at least a 30-50 buffer around your property, stack your firewood and your combustibles away from your home in the event that a fire were to come up on your property," said Anchorage Assembly Member Paul Honeman.

Forest fire fuel sources in Southcentral Alaska include trees, shrubs, and grass in your yard, with the potential to ignite any combustible materials on or near your home.

Go to firewise.muni.org/firewise to apply for the program. Click here for more information.