ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Wildfires are inevitable in Alaska.
On average, more than one million acres burn from wildfires around the state each year. Some of them are close to homes, so we wanted to find out the best ways that you can fireproof your home.
When Rick Kullberg decided to live in the Stuckagain Heights neighborhood 35 years ago, he said it was a dream – to have cedar house in the middle of the forest.
He says he never really worried about the safety of his home until the recent wildfires.
“I didn't think about fire hazard, but it soon became apparent that something had to be done,” he said.
So she asked the Anchorage Fire Department to inspect his house.
“They gave us a big F for fire preparedness, and I mean this house was a campfire waiting to be ignited,” he said.
He removed several trees and replaced his roof.
“One of the things that we found was the homeowner had a wooden shake roof, which is one of the most dangerous characteristics for a wildfire,” said John See, a forester with the Anchorage Fire Department.
Although Kullberg’s home is a lot safer now, he says the worry about a wildfire is always there.
“I do feel a lot better, but I have to be realistic, it’s the thing I fear the most about living up here,” he said.
Here’s a few things homeowners can do to make their homes safer:
- Cut tall grass that’s surrounding your home
- Clean your gutters
- Remove leaves
- Trim the trees around your home
- Provide a 25-foot clearance between your home and the nearest trees
- Do not store extra wood underneath your deck
Watch out for spruce bark beetles. Alaska has been seeing a lot of beetle activity over the past several years because of our warmer winters.
The beetles have killed millions of acres of trees in Alaska. Those trees have become more flammable and can pose fire risks during warmer months.
The Anchorage Fire Department was recently awarded a $270,000 grant for its Wildfire Mitigation Program. Homeowners can apply for a home inspection beginning in the spring of 2019.