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Wildfire season has started early this year.

A lack of snow cover coupled with warm and dry conditions have created an environment where it is possible for wildfires to start. As residents and visitors prepare to spend more time outdoors, the North Dakota Forest Service is outlining how rural landowners can protect their homes and prevent the spread of wild land fires.

Start by following these eight steps:

1. Keep flammable objects (lawn mowers, oil or gas cans, propane tanks and wood piles) at least 30 feet away from the home at all times. Move combustible materials, such as lawn furniture and toys, during wildfire activity.

2. Keep roofs, gutters, decks and patios clear of leaves, pine needles or other flammables at all times.

3. Remove all flammable mulch and vegetation within 5 feet of the home and replace with nonflammable material.

4. Remove tree or shrub branches that overhang within ten feet of your house, roof or chimney.

5. Trim tree limbs up to 10 feet above the ground. These lower branches are called ladder fuels, which can carry a fire burning in low-growing vegetation to taller vegetation.

6. Keep lawns watered and mowed. If conserving water, make sure debris is removed within 30 feet of home.

7. Install 1/8-inch metal mesh screens over vents and under decks to prevent ember intrusion.

8. Go to Firewise.org or smokeybear.com/en to learn more about how to prepare your home and prevent wildfire.

Develop, discuss, and practice an emergency action plan with everyone in your home. Include details for handling pets and livestock. Know two ways out of your neighborhood and have a predesignated meeting place. Ensure your home and neighborhood have legible and clearly marked street names and numbers. Driveways should be at least 12 feet wide with a vertical clearance of 15 feet for emergency vehicle access.

90% of wildfires are caused by humans, so always be mindful of your activities outside and their potential for causing fire. Many counties have proactively implemented a burn ban. These bans typically prohibit activities like open burning, campfires, and fireworks when fire danger conditions are high. To learn more about what each burn ban entails and to check the current status of your county, please visit the ND Response website at https://ndresponse.gov/burn-ban-restrictions-fire-danger-maps.

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