Matanuska-Susitna Borough

DES Reminding Residents of Home Fire Safety

Mat-Su | Stefan Hinman | Friday, May 10, 2024

Mat-Su Borough Emergency Services has responded to a number of significant fires over the past few months in our community. These fires have resulted in significant property damage to multiple structures, and in some cases even caused tragic loss of life. Your Emergency Services would like to take this opportunity to remind all residents of several fire safety tips.

A number of these fires have started on the exterior of the residence or structure and then rapidly spread causing significant damage. We would like to focus on this specific cause and remind everyone of key preventive steps that can be taken to reduce your risk of a similar type of fire. 

  • Flowerpots are not a proper disposal location for smoking materials! Flowerpots and their soil are high in organic debris that readily burns. Disposal of cigarettes and other materials in flowerpots, especially if they are dry, often cause a small fire that can smolder for hours before igniting nearby materials such as decks, siding and other structural components. Discard smoking materials in deep wide and sturdy ashtrays made of noncombustible materials such as a metal bucket filled with wet sand.
  • Never discard woodstove or fireplace ashes on a deck or porch! All ashes should be placed in a fireproof container and stored away from the building and other ignitable materials.
  • Do not place grills or griddles next to your building. Both wood and vinyl siding can ignite when placed in contact with components of a hot grill or griddle. Make sure all heat sources are well away from parts of the structure and any flammable materials.
  • Do not keep other sources of ignition on decks, patios or up against structures. Animal enclosures with heat lamps are a common ignition source and should be kept clear of your home. Place chickencoops out in your yard!
  • Be very cautious when burning! Make sure you follow all burn permit guidelines when burning debris, lawns or using burn barrels. These need to be attended at all times and be sure to have a way to control a fire if it spreads.  Every year we have escaped burns that cause significant damage to homes and the wildlands. 
  • Be a Firewise homeowner! Be sure to have defensible space around your home in the event of Wildfire. Keep all combustible materials stored at least five feet from your house and structures and maintain a defensible space.
  • When plugging in vehicles during cold temperatures make sure to park well back from all walls and roof overhangs. If the vehicle catches fire due to a mechanical failure during the night you need adequate distance so it does not spread to the exterior of the house or building.
  • Keep the exits and pathways clear to your home to provide an escape route if a fire should occur. Practice two ways out of every room. When a fire starts get out and stay out. Never re-enter a burning residence. 

Mat-Su fire departments have responded to over 56 structure fires so far in 2024 all across the Borough, please do not let yours become a statistic!

  • Be sure to call 911 early when a fire or emergency is discovered.
  • Do not delay exiting to retrieve possessions such as phones and wallets.
  • Close doors as you exit to delay the spread of the smoke and fire.

The Mat-Su Borough Department of Emergency Services wants you to have a fire safe year.  Please reach out to your local fire department for assistance or more information on fire prevention and safety. For questions regarding wildfire related information, please contact the Department of Forestry.  Your local fire department may be able to assist you with;

  • Smoke detectors for your residence.
  • Address signs to aid emergency services in locating you during an emergency.
  • Fire safety literature and materials.
  • Home Firewise assessments.

Call 911 in case of a fire or emergency, and if a fire starts exit immediately and stay out!  Never re-enter a building on fire.