The Waterfall Fire started in what city officials say was the most hazardous area in Carson City.
"It's stretching across the worst possible spot in Carson City to have a wildfire," said Carson City Fire Marshall Chief Stacey Giomi. "In 24 years, it's the worst fire I've seen. It's very serious."
The fire burned through an area vegetated with timber, sagebrush and cheatgrass that was targeted by the U.S. Forest Service as a high priority for fire prevention activities next year. The service's Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest announced its draft plan Monday to thin the area and remove trees, brush and grass to reduce fire conditions seen Wednesday.
"This is our Capital City's scenic backdrop," District Ranger Gary Schiff said Monday. "We need to do what we can to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire."
Thinning vegetation in areas where homes are built next to forest and open lands generally slows wildfire, giving firefighters a chance to gain control.
With extreme fire conditions and moisture content levels at record lows, the canyon landscape was in prime conditions for a devastating event, said Elwood Miller, executive coordinator for the Nevada Fire Safe Council. The dry conditions seen this week are usually seen weeks later in the season.
"It's steep mountainous terrain, cut by small canyons," Miller said. "All you have to do is drive down 395, look to the right and see fire scar after fire scar. This is fire country."
Fire agencies conducted a few clearing activities in the Kings Canyon/Lakeview areas this year, but a U.S. Forest Service strategy announced Monday called for hazardous fuels reduction in Kings Canyon, Clear Creek and Voltaire Canyon. That work wouldn't begin until next year, if the strategy is approved.
Work was done on C Hill last year and a program to create defensible space around homes in Lakeview was put in place at that time. Fuel breaks have been created in Timberline and Ash Canyon, Miller said.
The fire council was just starting to work with residents of Timberline to begin holding community meetings, Miller said. The council assists communities to form local chapters, which coordinate community activities to clear the areas of hazardous, overgrown brush.
Carson City is currently managing about $450,000 in federal grants distributed through the Nevada Division of Forestry. The money is being used this year to clear areas of Lakeview, Timberline and Clear Creek and create fire breaks, Giomi said.
Contact Jill Lufrano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.