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Simple steps to help protect your home from wildfires

MEERS, Okla._The threat of wildfires in Texoma is nearly year round, and at any moment your house could be in danger.

Fire fighters and residents in rural areas are trying to get the word out on taking "Firewise Actions" on your property, especially in the coming months where temperatures will be comfortable enough for outside work and right before the summer dry season.

Being "firewise" ranges from small things like clearing fire "fuelers", which are brush and small limbs on your property, all the way to bigger things like building a turn around area for a fire truck. Many of their neighbors around Meers are taking the same actions but not all, so they want more to be aware of what they can do.

"If one of us goes, we all are going to go. That's my idea, to be an example, and if they need help I'll help them," said Rick Wiens, home owner.

Bob Elliot, felt that his home investment and educating the neighbors goes hand in hand, "Others just aren't interested, and I think the interest is the main thing. I have got such an investment here and I want to protect it," said Elliot.

For Elliot and his wife, their investment is their Meers home they've had for 5 years. Three years ago when they were evacuated from their home because a wildfire was just 50 yards away, they decided to take action. They started by cutting down cedar trees, which are highly flammable.

Next they cleaned up brush, trimmed lower limbs, and removed dead vegetation from the area. It may seem small but Richard Baker, of the wildlife refuge, says it can mean a world of difference if a wildfire was heading to the home.

"This is going to create a fire break.  If we have a large fire coming at us at any one direction this is going to split where that fire goes, and that gives an area to start from where we can start to defend and contain a fire," said Baker.

Meers Fire Chief, Bill Cunningham, says living out in these areas it is a no-brainer to take these actions, "Doing this is complete risk management. You're reducing your risk, you're abating hazards. It just makes sense."

Cunningham adds that these actions don't just protect you and your home from fire, but they also protect firefighters and give them better chances at fighting the flames.

"We are going to put our safety first. This is dangerous work and we must have escape routes and have evacuation zones that we can get to. We are not going to go stretching hose into thick vegetation and brush that we might become entrapped and harmed," said Chief Cunningham.

For more information on how to be "Firewise" click here.

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