U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
|Elko Field Office|
Date: April 30, 2007
Fire season 2007 once again has the potential to see several large wildfires in northeastern Nevada similar to the 2006 season.
“We know people are tired of hearing about fire – especially in Elko County where nearly 1 million acres burned last year,” said Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Elko Fire Management Officer Joe Freeland. “The fact of the matter, however, is that a large fire season could happen again. The bulk of carryover fuels from last year are still out there on the ground. Over 80 percent of 2006’s fine fuels are there and are not going to turn green again. There’s a low snow pack and we’re below normal for winter precipitation. We’re expecting an active season and an earlier one as well.”
Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest Fire Management Officer Melody Asher noted that it’s already drier at the higher elevations around Elko County … especially in areas where people like to recreate. Some portions of the county are already experiencing August dryness.
Elko Interagency Dispatch Manager Bill Roach remarked, “One of our primary concerns with heavy vegetation is ‘fine fuels’ such as cheat grass,” Roach continued. “When cheat grass ignites it is a fearsome thing to see because of the speed and intensity of the fire growth. Even the swiftest-footed mule deer caught by the head of a wind-driven cheat grass fire can’t outrun the flames, which often race across the landscape at speeds of 30-40 miles per hour.”
“Wildfires in this heavy fuel build up could result in erratic fire behavior just like we saw last season. Suppression could be more difficult, especially if we have numerous fire ignitions. We definitely need the public’s help and cooperation with fire safety. We’re hoping to avoid fire restrictions and fire closures this year,” Roach added.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and fire fighting partners such as the Nevada Division of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, and the more than 30 Volunteer Fire Departments in Northeastern Nevada are looking at a number of ways to protect communities including green strip maintenance to increase their effectiveness. Green strips were used more than once in 2006 to keep fires out of Elko.
“The key to everyone getting through this year’s fire season with life and property intact – is that everyone must practice fire safety every day,” Roach concluded. “Protecting property starts with every home owner.”
Note to editors – This is the first in a series of 4 articles dealing with the coming fire season. Future topics in the series include the role of the public, creating defensible space, and things to think about and prepare if fire comes to your neighborhood.
|Last updated: 04-01-2008|
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