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Clay County Comes Together to Discuss Fire Risks

It takes a lot to get 60 people to an educational program on a Monday night. It gets easier when the topic is wildfire-something all too familiar for folks in Clay County. Thanks to the monumental efforts of firefighters, no Clay County homes were lost in the 2016 wildfires, but residents remember the fear, and turned out to hear about how they can protect their homes and families the next time fire threatens.

Speakers at the event included Tri-County Community College Director of Public Safety Training Henry Angelopulos, NCFS County Ranger Bob Ray, Southwestern RC&D Project Manager Laurel Kays, Chestatee-Chatahoochee RC&D Executive Director Frank Riley, and county leader and Possum Drop King Clay Logan. The discussion covered many topics including the challenges firefighters face in responding to fire in Clay County, the fact that fire is a natural process that will always exist in Western North Carolina, how fire spreads from the woods to the home, and how homeowners and residents can prepare their homes for fire and reduce their risk when fire does occur.

Many attendees requested follow-up contacts to discuss the possibility of pursuing Firewise USA status for their communities. Laurel Kays is working with those communities to move forward on getting the community assessments that represent the first step in the Firewise USA designation pathway.

Southwestern NC RC&D would like to specifically recognize the Brasstown-Warne Volunteer Fire Departments for their hard work in originating the Clay County meeting and making it such a success. While operating on shoestring budgets, VFD’s offer countless services to communities, and those who can support their efforts are highly encouraged to do so.

Those interested in learning more about Firewise USA and fire preparedness can contact Laurel Kays at lkays@southwesternrcd.org.

*Photo Above: From Left to Right- Clay Logan, Frank Riley (Executive Director of Chestatee/Chattahoochee RC&D Council), Laurel Kays, Paulette Tonielli (Chief of the Brasstown Fire Dept.), Henry Angelopilos (Tri-County Community College Director of Public Safety Training), Bob Ray (Clay Co. NCFS Ranger)