Chalet Village becomes a Firewise community after Gatlinburg wildfire

GATLINBURG (WATE) – One community is one step closer to becoming a “Firewise USA” site, as Chalet Village held their first community meeting on the subject Saturday morning.

Brook Smith with the Tennessee Division of Forestry says the program is an easy one.

“It is a very easy and inexpensive program, and it just takes a buy-in from the community and effort, really, from the community to drive the program,” he said.

The National Fire Protection Association runs the program. The goal is to help communities protect their homes from wildfire risks.

Jan Shoupe, a resident of Gatlinburg, says she remembers the night of the November wildfires all too well.

“It was very scary the night of the fires and I really didn’t know exactly what to do, and I want to be better prepared,” said Shoupe.

Shoupe doesn’t live in Chalet Village, but she is in charge of crafting a safety plan for the summit, the neighborhood condominium community she calls home. She attended the meeting and came away with a lot of helpful ideas.

“The fact of having the buildings marked with reflective numbers so that firefighters can see, because right now we have signs, but they’re not reflective numbers,” Shoupe said.

Smith says one thing you can do is clean up the dried leaves around your house.

“If you can remove those little hot spots – you know, the corner of your house where leaves have gathered and embers will follow during weather events – you can stop alot of the ignition sources,” said Smith.

Whether your community is officially firewise or not, the state says there are simple things you can do to help make your property more wildfire-resistant.

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