Matanuska-Susitna Borough


Homeowners can take effective measures to protect their homes and property. Adopting Firewise principles can reduce your risk of damage or loss to your property and community. It is vitally important for the homeowner to take effective measures that will help their property survive a wildland fire. When wildland fire strikes, firefighters must prioritize their efforts and may not reach every home. A Firewise home is more likely to survive a fire.

Community Wildfire Protection Plan

Go to Plan

In 2007 the borough adopted a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) for its entire acreage. It identifies community assets such as schools, fire stations, utilities and other things which would be vulnerable to wildfire. Loss of such assets would be devastating to the community. Hazardous vegetation areas which may fuel a wildfire are identified. Fuel reduction projects were also identified to help protect valuable and vulnerable assets.

The followed on the heels of the 2006 formation of the Horseshoe Lake Firewise Community, near Big Lake. They became the first Firewise Community in the State of Alaska. The community had lost many houses in the 1996 Miller's Reach Fire, which burned approximately 56 square miles as well as over 400 homes and outbuildings. In order to become recognized on the national level, part of their requirements were to create a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). It was the first in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Home Ignition Zone


The Home Ignition Zone (HIZ) surrounds a house and may be 100-200 feet. Traditionally broken into three zones, when cleared of flammable vegetation it can become defensible space. Removing or reducing vegetation may prevent the spread of wildfire and home loss.

Self-Assessment Checklist

Within 15 feet of structure

  • Remove all conifers and dry or dead vegetation
  • Edge the building with small plants, fl owers or gravel

From 15-30 feet of structure

  • Thin or clump conifer trees to ~15 feet between extending branches
  • Prune limbs of mature conifers to 6-8 feet
  • Remove shrubs beneath trees
  • Remove all dry or dead vegetation

From 30 - 100 feet of structure (increase distance if slope is >30%)

  • Thin conifers to 10 -15 feet between extending branches
  • Thin black spruce in clusters
  • Prune limbs of remaining conifers to 6-8 feet
  • Remove shrubs beneath trees
  • Remove all dry or dead vegetation

General Landscaping

  • Maintain lawn at 3” or less and keep well watered
  • Keep trees healthy with frequent watering
  • Dispose of fl ammable debris from your property
  • Keep areas under stairs and decks free of debris; Enclose with non- combustible screens
  • Clean the roof and gutters of needles, leaves, and branches
  • Provide a 15 foot clearance between your chimney and nearest tree branches
  • Prune trees in fall for best health - spruce bark beetle reference guide at

Building Materials

  • Cap chimney with spark arrester
  • Roof should be fi re resistant; If not, keep clear of leaves, mosses and lichens
  • Screen all exterior vents, such as attic openings

Access and Signs

  • Address marked with refl ective numbers at least 4” high on house and driveway
  • Clear vegetation alongside driveway and road edge
  • Driveway should be 12 feet wide with a turnaround for emergency vehicle access


  • Keep garden hoses and fi re tools (shovels, rakes, or pulaskis) readily available
  • If you have a well, consider installing a pump and generator
  • Keep storage areas clean; Do not accumulate combustibles such as oily rags and newspapers
  • Check spark arresters on all motorized equipment; Store 30 feet away from structures or inside garage Hazardous Material
  • Use non-combustible cribbing for fuel tanks with a 10 foot area cleared around the tank
  • Stack fi rewood at least 30 feet from house and clear 10 feet around pile
  • Do not stack fi rewood under trees or on downhill side of property

Fire Plan Inside

  • Locate nearest fi re station and post emergency numbers by several home telephones
  • Test smoke and CO alarms monthly and change batteries twice a year; Keep fire extinguisher current
  • Clean chimney and stovepipe regularly
  • Identify emergency action plan for entire family & pets
  • Identify Safety Zone where family meets in an emergency
  • Prepare emergency supplies for transport (food, water, valuables and important documents)

Articles and Information

Firewise Articles and Info

Firewise Alaska
Firewood Tips
Shaded Fuel Break Diagram
Smokey Bear Activity Book - for Kids K-2
Spruce Bark Beetles
Wildfire Fuel Thinning Diagram
Wildfires & Climate Change