Firewise in Minnesota

FireWise Minnesota

Is your home Firewise?

As a homeowner in Minnesota, you may not realize that wildfires are a threat, but the potential is real. Minnesota has more than 2,200 wildfires a year. Every homeowner that has a home near natural spaces, known as the wildland-urban interface, can take action to reduce the risk of damage to their home and property.

Fire is an inherent danger to having a home close to nature and rural fire departments, trained and equipped to protect homes in small communities, are unable to protect scattered homes from large wildfires. For example, in May 2000, a wildfire south of Princeton, Minnesota destroyed four homes. These homes were in a new development in a pine stand on the edge of wildlands. Later that year in October, a wildfire raced across the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area destroying four homes and effecting 8,500 acres despite the efforts of 53 fire departments, the DNR, and the National Guard.

Some homes did survive in these wildfires. Why? Because they had defensible space, space around the homes that inhibited fire spread and allowed firefighters the opportunity to protect the home.

Watch Rooted in the Future to see how some Minnesota residents are learning to care for the land to help reduce wildfire risk.

Reducing wildfire risk around your home

Home and yard saved from surrounding wildfire by firewise landscaping.Becoming Firewise means taking steps to reduce wildfire risk by creating a defensible space around your home. It doesn’t mean you’ll have to take down all your trees or do every wildfire safety guideline.

You can get started by completing a home assessment and then complete wildfire safety projects that best meet your needs and budget. Order your Firewise homeowner's kit and get a free DIY home assessment form, brochures, and other resources in the mail.

Resources for homeowners include:

The Fire Environment

An important part of learning how to protect your home and property is understanding how fire works and effects and influences its’ surroundings. In Minnesota, the main components of fire are weather, available fuels, and human behavior.

Minnesota's wildfire weather occurs in two distinct seasons: spring wildfire season and late summer/fall wildfire season. The spring wildfire season begins at snowmelt and continues until the vegetation "greens up." As soon as the spring rains start and the vegetation begins its new growth, spring wildfire season slows considerably. Wildfire activity increases in late July and August, when the vegetation has begun to dry out and "cure." This is the time of year when Minnesota receives frequent thunder and lightning storms and windy conditions. The combination of lightning storms, high temperatures, high winds, and dry fuels creates prime conditions for wildfires. High wind speeds can easily transform a small, controllable fire into a catastrophic event in a matter of minutes.
Fuel is required for any fire to burn. With regards to wildfire, fuels almost always consist of vegetation, both living and dead (trees, shrubs, dried grasses, fallen branches, etc.) Houses, when involved in a wildfire, become a source of fuel. The amount, size, moisture content, arrangement, and other fuel characteristics influence ease of ignition, rate of fire spread, length of flames produced, and other fire behaviors.
Human Behavior
When people are living in a fire environment, the human-built environment becomes an important factor in predicting the loss of life and property. Untreated wood shake and shingle roofs, narrow roads, limited access, lack of firewise landscaping, inadequate water supplies, and poorly planned subdivisions are examples of increased risk to people living with the threat of wildfire.

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