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DNR says homeowners can help protect their property from wildfires

With extremely dry conditions throughout the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages property owners to ensure their homes are safe from potential wildfires. Tom Eiber, who oversees the DNR's Firewise Program, said the greatest threat to homes is not necessarily from the flames of an encroaching wildfire but rather from the embers tossed into the air and carried downwind.

"Those embers can land anywhere," Eiber stressed. "The goal is to keep those embers from landing on a fuel source, such as leaves that might be laying on your roof or deck."

The recent rainfall lowered the fire danger level from very high to low throughout Minnesota. However, Eiber cautioned that the conditions are still ripe for wildfires. The DNR is concerned about the north-central regions of the state, especially around Brainerd, Zimmerman, Little Falls and Detroit Lakes, where the dry conditions are at record levels for this time of the year. Eiber estimated 98 percent of Minnesota homeowners could improve their situation, regardless of where they live.

"Those who live in our rural communities are the most susceptible to wildfire, but they're not the only ones," he explained. "The exceedingly dry conditions put everyone, everywhere at risk. All it takes is the right set of conditions with a nearby fuel source, and a whole neighborhood could be lost."

The DNR suggests seven quick and easy steps homeowners can take to help protect their homes and property from a wildfire.

o mow the grass because short grass will not allow an encroaching fire to spread

o clean leaves and needles from the rooftop and gutters; an ember from a wildfire could ignite them, causing the house to burn

o clear leaves and needles from decks and clean underneath them, too; leaves, grass and old lumber are also invitations for ignition

o remove dead, dry leaves and tall grass from around the house, and move woodpiles and other potential fuel sources back at least 30 feet from the house

o make sure house numbers are clear and visible from the road to help firefighters find where they're going

o be prepared; have a shovel and hose with a working nozzle ready to go, just in case

o become Firewise; visit for more information.

"The good news is these projects are free, and they are things people have probably been meaning to do anyway," Eiber said. "In just a few hours, a landowner can greatly reduce the potential risk. A little bit of action can go a long way."

Property owners can learn more about safeguarding their homes from wildfires by visiting the DNR's Web site, or by requesting a free Firewise Homeowners Kit. To receive a kit, contact the DNR's Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free at 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).





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