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MSU Extension helps area homeowners prevent wildfires

August 13, 2012
Emily Siegmon - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ATLANTA - Firewise Community Program is currently providing northern Michigan homeowners information, procedures and techniques on how to ensure homes will survive wildfires through a local Michigan State University Extension in Atlanta. Dennis McClure, MSUE firewise educator, said Michigan experiences around 8,000 wildfires per year with the power to destroy or damage homes. While this is an issue in Michigan, he said there are easy and inexpensive ways to prevent homes and buildings from catching fire.

"A lot of houses that are 100-250 feet from other house fires end up burning too, but this doesn't have to be the case," McClure said. "I always that it wasn't possible to stop wildfires so easily, but it is possible. There are simple things you can do."

According to McClure, one of the most important steps homeowners can take to prevent unwanted fires is through properly landscaping homes, plant selection and placement, mowing yards, and picking up leaves.

"You don't always have to cut down trees, but pine trees are the most dangerous. They need to be trimmed down to four or five feet within a 30-foot radius of any house," he said.

McClure also suggests surrounding homes with stone instead of wood mulch to protect homes from wildfires. He said one of the main issues in Michigan is how fast and far fires can travel, including grass fires, which can travel one to eight miles per hour.

"Most homes can survive a fire. We're here to educate people, so they can perform tasks to make sure their home will survive a wildfire," he said.

The National Firewise Communities Program provides wildland/urban interface resources for firefighter safety, community planning, landscaping, construction, and maintenance to help protect people, property, and natural resources from wildfires. For more information, visit the Firewise website at Free bulletins and programs are also available through the MSU Atlanta Extension office. To schedule a program, call 785-8013.

A Firewise display will also be available throughout the week during the Atlanta fair and will include information, candy and other prizes. Representatives will be available at the fair on Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. to answer any questions.

Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5687.



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