FireWise program comes to White Oak Mountain

Published 1:01 pm Friday, July 25, 2008

At the request of the White Oak Mountain Homeowners Association, Loudermelt and his FireWise Community Assessment Team have been conducting a comprehensive assessment of the entire White Oak Mountain complex, including the Camp Skyuka Community, unassociated private homes on the mountain and The Brow at White Oak. The complex was close to a fire on the north side of White Oak Mountain (see pictures pages 8 and 9). The assessment will result in a comprehensive report so that land and home owners and the various homeowner associations will be able to develop a total picture of the wildfire threat and those actions necessary to mitigate the threat.

&dquo;I think it is an excellent initiative and look forward to the report,&dquo; said Gordon Oran, president of the Camp Skyuka Homeowners Association. &dquo;I, as a mountain homeowner, have always had some concern about wildfire, and naturally from a Homeowners Association perspective we need to think total mountain community; not just the Skyuka side.&dquo;

&dquo;Naturally Ranger Loudermelt and his team are working hard, but that is just the tip of the iceberg,&dquo; said Skip Williams, a fulltime mountain resident. &dquo;Once we receive the report the work really starts. We, as a total mountain community, will need to move forward using the North Carolina foresters&squo; observations and details to develop a plan and implement it. That implementation phase is the tough nut,&dquo; Williams explained. &dquo;Our ultimate goal is to achieve state and national recognition status in the FireWise Communities/USA⪚ program.&dquo;

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With the drought continuing and the forest floor accumulating more and more combustibles the likelihood of fire increases significantly. The benefits of being a FireWise Community are easy to understand:

&ull; Creates a defensible space that prevents fires from advancing and endangering homes and lives.

&ull; Improves property value while reducing the risk of loss.

&ull; Improves community relationships with local fire staff, since firefighters can concentrate their efforts on fighting wildfires rather than devoting often limited resources to protecting homes ‐ which may ultimately be lost if the fire can&squo;t be contained.

&ull; Encourages good neighbors, since the more homes within a community that adopt &dquo;FireWise&dquo; practices, the greater the impact on reducing the heat and speed of the fire.

&ull; Offers homeowners peace of mind, knowing that their home is prepared to survive a wildfire in the event one should occur.

Loudermelt indicated it was not necessarily an easy task gathering the data by visiting every third home on the mountain. But he knows that if the homeowner associations come together and work toward their goals to create a FireWise community, his work will have helped save millions of dollars in forest, homes, property and lives.

Those interested in the North Carolina FireWise Communities/USA⪚ program may find more information at:

‐ article submitted by Skip Williams