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VA Forestry Department helping protect homes from wildfires with fuel reduction

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WISE COUNTY, Va. -

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable Wildfire season in Virginia and Tennessee started this week, and this past year wildfires in Southwest Virginia have burned close to 200 acres of land. The district has had the most acres burned in the state. Now the Virginia Department of Forestry is helping people protect their homes with what they call Fire-Wise Fuel Reduction. Black Diamond Resource Conservation and Development Council started the project, that's free for eligible homeowners, with a grant from the forestry department. They said with the recent wildfires it's more important than ever to be safe. "Over time in the forest leaves fall and accumulate, also trees die and fall," said Bill Miller, from the Virginia Department of Forestry. "There's dead snags, all these things burn readily." For fire-wise protection they remove dry brush that they call fuel, which can easily catch fire and spread to your home. They clear a zone of anywhere from 30 to 100 feet around the home and also make sure the gutters and roof are clear of any leaves. Homeowner, Jody Evans, knows just how scary a wildfire can be. Last march he was burning some leaves and thought he had put all the flames out, but just one spark caused a wildfire. The fire destroyed around 40 acres of his property and almost took his home with it. "Days later it was still smoking and burning," said Evans. "It really affected my wife tremendously, and it was emotionally draining and I felt guilty." That's why he wanted to get his home protected and said more people should do the same, a big part of the program is helping educate people on what to do going forward. "It's a learning experience, out of every bad thing there's always something good," said Evans. "The good thing is I've been educated and I know what to do know to make my home safer." If you would live in a woodland area and want to get your home Fire-Wise fuel protected, contact Mandy Worrell from Black Diamond at 276-794-7533 or email BlackDiamondRCD@gmail.com . They are currently serving Virginia residents in Lee, Scott, Wise, Russell, Dickenson, and Buchanan County, and the City of Norton.

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