Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
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Richard Piatt reporting People who live on hillsides in Utah are being asked to help themselves prepare for wildfire. The B-L-M and Forest Service say a dangerous fire season is approaching.
And there are a lot of mistakes you could be making, just by doing nothing.
Here's an example of what fire experts are worried about: trees, bushes, even grass, growing really close to homes on a hillside.
Those plants are attractive now, but are considered a serious liability if a fire breaks out.
Cindy White snaps a shot of her house in the first stages of being 'fire-proofed'.
County firefighters trim away loads of dead and excess branches from around her house.
She and her husband Scott like the lush feeling in their yard.
But they had no idea that, in a way, they've been sitting on a powder keg.
Scott White/Homeowner: "WE DON'T REALLY KNOW. WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THE DANGER IS. SOME OF THESE TREES WE WOULD NEVER HAVE GUESSED WOULD BE ANY KIND OF HAZARD."
Firefighters demonstrate how to create 'defensible space' around a home.
That space can make a huge difference if a fire breaks out.
During the heat of the summer flames can turn a shade tree into a conduit to your home.
At the White's home, that risk is clear.
Cpt. Mike Watson/Salt Lake County Fire Dept.: "YOU CAN SEE VERY EASILY THAT IF A FIRE GETS INTO THESE TREES A FIRE COULD START AND COMMUNICATE TREE TO TREE TO TREE AND YOU CAN SEE THERE ARE ACTUALLY SOME BRANCHES HERE THAT ARE TOUCHING THIS STRUCTURE."
The White's found this out first hand a few years ago--three homes down their street gutted by a fire that started downhill and spread uphill. They remember it clearly.
Cindy White/Homeowner "OH, IT WAS UNBELIEVABLE. I WAS THE THIRD PERSON ON THE SCENE, AND I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHIG SO HORRIFIC IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. TO SEE HOW FAST SOMETHING CAN GO UP. AND YOU THINK, WELL I'LL JUST SPRAY MY HOUSE WITH WATER AND GET THE SPRINKLERS GOING. IT DIDN'T EVEN MATTER."
It was a wake up call to trim trees away from their home. They're letting their yard be an example of how peaceful landscaping can be a risk.
Firefighter: "YOU CAN SEE WE HAVE A LOT OF FUELS HERE, THIS IS TINDER DRY..."
Firefighters recommend you trim trees at least 30 feet from your home if you live on a slope like that---farther away on steeper slopes.
This kind of prevention is so important, State Farm Insurance company is giving some homeowners two years to comply with these kind of guidelines, or their policies will be dropped.