A brushfire burns a tree and tall grasses.

Preventing fires

The Minnetonka Fire Department offers the following tips for preventing wildfires and other types of fires, and for protecting your property in the event of a fire.

  • In mid-summer, when vegetation is fully leaved, go to the street and see if you can read your address. City ordinance requires that street addresses can be seen and read from the street. Remember that at times smoke or darkness may make it harder to see your address.
  • Make sure your driveway is at least 12 feet wide, and prune overhanging branches to a height of 14 feet. Also make sure your driveway has a solid driving surface and all culverts and bridges can accommodate heavy fire trucks.
  • If your driveway is more than150 feet long, make sure there is a large turnaround near the house.
  • Look at your trees. If trees are predominantly evergreens, a ten-foot minimum space between the trees should be maintained. Also make sure you maintain this distance from the trees to your house.
  • Look at the vertical arrangement of the vegetation. Is there continuous fuel (grass, leaves, branches) reaching from the ground to the crowns of the trees? This is called “ladder fuel” because it provides a ladder for fire to climb from the ground to the crown. Eliminate this ladder fuel by mowing tall grass, trimming shrubs and pruning the lower branches off trees up six to ten feet.
  • A couple moves their firewood.Clean up the home defensible zone. Is there enough space for firefighters to protect the backside of the home? Remove obstructing debris and trees and make sure fences have easily accessible gates.
  • Firewood piles placed by the back door should be moved outside the home defensible zone by March each year.
  • Clean leaves, needles and other debris each spring from the roof and gutters, foundation plantings, from next to buildings and under decks.
  • Consider using rock and stone landscaping materials next to buildings.
  • Keep your lawn watered and mowed to 3 inches or less on all sides of all buildings.
  • Clear a 10-foot space around propane tanks. Keep this space in gravel, rock or short, well-watered grass. All propane tanks should be stored outside or in a detached shed, protected from the elements and at least 10 feet from any openings to the building, including basement windows, doors and vents.
  • A chimney made from brick.When updating your home, consider using less flammable materials such as brick, stone and metal for siding, and fire- and wind-rated roofing materials.
  • Does your fireplace chimney have an effective spark arrestor? Your chimney should be inspected and cleaned annually.
  • Ensure soffits are enclosed with a solid barrier and that vents are screened with a fine mesh to keep out flying embers.
  • Make sure you have smoke detectors on each floor of your home, check them monthly to make sure they work, and replace the batteries twice a year.
  • In Minnetonka you cannot burn leaves and debris. Instead, consider alternatives like composting or bring these items to Minnetonka Public Works during brush drop-off times or spring and fall leaf drop-off.
  • Make sure recreational fires are made in a fire-safe pit or container and that you have a permit for them. The permit is free.
  • Do not dispose of ashes until they are cold to the touch for at least 24 hours.
  • Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Keep those safety cans in a fire-resistant metal or brick building or in your garage.
  • If there any branches close to power lines on your property, contact Xcel Energy to clear them.