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Green Country Residents Take Class In Protecting Home From Wildfires

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It's been nearly a year since residents in parts of Green Country fought their way through devastating wildfires. It's been nearly a year since residents in parts of Green Country fought their way through devastating wildfires.
DRUMRIGHT, Oklahoma -

Wildfire season is upon us. It's been nearly a year since residents in parts of Green Country fought their way through devastating wildfires.

People in Creek County are understandably on edge. But this time, they're learning how to protect their homes and land.

So many wildfire rage in the outskirts of towns, and fire experts say living rural means learning with the threat of a wildfire. But you can prepare.

Residents and emergency responders from across Creek County showed up to Central Tech in Drumright Tuesday night for a Firewise class. The idea behind the program is to teach communities how to work together to prevent losses.

"They came and they evacuated us and the fire was approaching us," said Mannford resident Jim Rodanski.

Rodanski is one of the lucky ones. After being forced to leave, the winds shifted just in time to save his home from last summer's wildfire near Mannford. The scene is still burned in his memory, along with the losses of so many of his friends.

6/14/2013 Related Story: Victims Of Creek County Wildfire Sympathize With Colorado Victims

"It's really sad to see a grown man pull up, and has a truck with a trailer with all his belongings in it, and says, 'I've lost everything, except what's in my truck and trailer,' and he's crying. It was pretty devastating," Rodanski said.

Rodanski showed up to the Firewise program to ensure he's never in that position.

And Firewise adviser Patrick Mahoney says the best time to fight a wildfire is before it's even sparked.

"Now's the time to get prepared, get those roofs and gutters cleaned off," Mahoney said.

In addition to what's on your home, Community Wildfire Protection Program Director Bob Nail said what's around it is just as important.

Nail said saving your home is as simple as getting rid of any brush, leaves and overgrown bushes around your property.

8/7/2012 Related Story: Skiatook Communities Set 'Firewise' Example

"If you'll create generally about 75 feet in circumference of a rural residence, keep the grass cut low, get rid of all of the unwanted fuel," Nail said.

Fire experts say old, unused cars or campers parked in yards are also dangerous fuel for fires and suggest getting them as far away from your home as possible.

But more important than saving any home or property is saving yourself. Nail said a wildfire can be just as dangerous as an EF-5 tornado--the only difference is, with a wildfire there's more time to get out of its way.

"People are not gonna stay and fight an EF-5 tornado, tornadoes are very deadly," Nail said. "Wild land fires are very deadly. When you're told to evacuate, it's time to get out."

Fire experts say 98 percent of wildfires are caused by humans.

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