In a few more weeks, grant money to clear vegetation in east Carson City will be spent and the communities surrounding Pinion Hills and Mexican Dam will be safer for it.
In a joint effort, the Carson City Fire Department, Nevada Division of Forestry and Bureau of Land Management will have cut fire lines into the sage-covered hills of 100 acres of publicly and privately owned land.
"We are creating defensible space around the whole community to break up continuity of fuels," said Gary Johnson, wildland fuel management coordinator for the Carson City Fire Department. "We've been very successful on the west side with the breaks and we're attempting to get ahead of the game here."
Division of Forestry crews have been clearing public lands, while Johnson meets with individual landowners. If landowners request the city's help with clearing their property, an inmate crew from the Nevada Division of Forestry is put to work at no cost to the owner.
The fire breaks serve several purposes, said Mike McQueen, fire ecologist with the BLM. In the event of a fire, they provide crews with a safe area to conduct fire suppression. They are designed to slow or stop a wildfire before it spreads.
The clearing began in November with a $118,000 grant obtained by the fire department from the National Fire Plan.
"We feel like our work on the west side saved firefighter lives and protected a lot of homes," Johnson said, alluding to the July Waterfall fire that claimed no lives but leveled 18 homes and one business.
"This is like a war, we're trying to figure out our strategy. We're just trying to prevent another Waterfall fire."
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