With the sudden arrival of fire season in Missoula due to the Colorado Gulch Fire, many homeowners who were evacuated were looking at their homes through their rear view mirrors wishing they had prepared a defensible space.

Jordan Koppen with the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation said, it's never too late.

"It's your responsibility to get your property in shape in case of a wuldfire," Koppen said. "We need to get those fuels away from the house because that's usually what can ignite your house and burn it to the ground."

Koppen said creating a defensible space doesn't have to be an expensive proposition.

"I looked around in the Grant Creek area, and there are lots of pine needles on people's roofs and houses," he said. "Even the smallest cracks that have fuels in them can be a hazard, because the embers that land on these dry fuels, that's what's going to ignite a fire."

Koppen said homeowners should check with their insurance company to see if they offer a discount for creating and maintaining a defensible space, especially if the home is located in the wildland-urban interface.

"That's what we're told to tell the homeowner to look into their home insurance, and specifically ask if they are covered in the event of a wildfire," he said. "In some case studies I have read, some homeowners don't have the right insurance, so that's definitely a situation you need to look into."

Koppen said local fire departments and the DNRC can come to the home and offer advice and even assist in the effort at a reduced price, and that even though the summer is waning, it's never too late to protect your home.

So far, only one fifth-wheel residence and a few outbuildings have been destroyed by the Colorado Gulch Fire, thanks to the quick action by firefighters.