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Preparation, prevention after Four Corners Fire

The Boise National Forest held an open house on Wednesday for people to learn more about wildfire prevention.

CASCADE, Idaho — Just a few months after the Four Corners Fire, Cascade community members like John Holland are doing everything they can to keep their homes safe.

"We were on ready, set, but we never made it go," Holland said. "From where we were living, we didn't see the lighting strike, but we saw the fire that started the next morning and just watched it grow over the days."

The Four Corners Fire burned nearly 14,000 acres west of Lake Cascade. But Cascade ranger Dennis Benson said it could have been a lot worse. 

"We really ducked a bullet with the Four Corners Fire," he said. "We didn't have any structures or buildings burned. There's been a lot of examples of other communities that haven't been so fortunate." 

To be proactive, Boise National Forest held an open house on Wednesday for people to learn more about fire prevention. He said cleaning pine needs of roofs and clearing away brush makes a big difference. 

"We need people in the community to engage in this process, so if we have a catastrophic fire, we don't lose homes."

The Forest Service also introduced the Southwest Idaho Landscape Project, which largely centers around wildfire prevention. This includes pretreating land using prescribed fire and other methods. 

The federal government is funding the project through President Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill. Benson said they should receive $30 to 33 million over the next three to five years. 

This year, they will receive roughly $15 million. Benson said the Forest Service plan on partnering with various other agencies and local governments around the state, he said. 

"We hope to work together and spend this money the best way that we can to give the communities the best bang for their buck," Benson said. 

Fire prevention technician Kim Drake said prescribed fire helps reduce the intensity of future wildfires.

"Prescribed fire is a planned event where the weather is good, we have containment lines, people in place, and the prescription is just right for the fire to do what we want it to do," Drake said.

Although it is the middle of winter, Holland said he is already preparing for the summer. 

"We've been doing a lot to get our property prepared … skirting our trees, getting rid of the underbrush," Holland said. "You can never make it fireproof, but [you] make it more fire safe."

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