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Early fire season brings early warnings

By By Chris Cole
Published On: May 10 2013 01:18:48 AM CDT

Fire season is here, and it's important to take precautions as it looks to be very nasty.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

We have seen a lot of thunderstorms the last few days, and with them comes lightning. 

While it may seem too soon, fire season is here now, and forecasters are predicting a nasty one. Here are some things to remember to avoid disasters like 2012's Charlotte Fire.

Hills and mountains in Pocatello still bear the scars of the Charlotte Fire which destroyed over 60 homes and buildings.

The damage can be seen from near and far away.

Areas like the Charlotte, Johnny Creek and Gibson Jack areas are some of the most dangerous when it comes to fires.

"It had a lot of junipers around it and a lot of grasses at the time," said Andy Holmes, captain of Fire Code Enforcement. "Homes weren't prepared for a fire to come through, so they didn't have their defensible space."

Defensible space is the area around your home.  

Landscaping not only looks nice, it can actually provide protection.

Experts say placing trees away from your home can help keep fire from getting too close.

"Just be aware of what's going on," said Holmes, "and look out for conditions that would create a hazardous fire situation."

It's thought that the Charlotte Fire was accidentally sparked.

This goes to show that anything from a cigarette, to a firework, to a dragging chain can be the spark that leads to tragedy.

The city of Pocatello is already putting precautions in place to protect high risk areas.  

The field at the beginning of the Johnny Creek area is part of a burn ban that began May 1 and will go through November 1. With a field like that, the question isn't whether it will burn, but rather, how slow or how fast

There are simple actions you can take to prevent fires from getting out of control.

You can be safer by building a fire pit, making sure to not park a car on long grass, and having a bucket of water or a hose on standby while at the barbecue, at a controlled burn or camping. 

Steps like those can make the difference between enjoyment and emergency.

"They should have a nice safe camping fire, they should have a safe cooking fire, roasting hot dogs or burning weeds," Holmes stated.  "There's never really a good reason for a fire to get away."

If you would like to find out if your home has a good defensible space, click here.

Firefighters recommend the website, Wildfire Wizard, to help homeowners understand their vulnerability to wildfire.

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