Use your head during wildfire season

For crying out loud, people. Has the Waterfall fire already faded from memory? Was the Andrew fire just another inconvenience for commuters?

At least three Northern Nevada wildfires in recent days had to be caused by humans, because Mother Nature wasn't creating any lightning. That means at least three people who haven't gotten the message yet that the tiniest dumb act - a tossed cigarette butt, for example - has the potential to devastate a lot of people's lives.

Waterfall and Andrew took out 26 homes last summer and caused millions of dollars of damage. By good fortune, no one was killed. Both were started by humans who weren't thinking.

On Tuesday, a fire along Highway 50 was an immediate threat to houses and the Clear Creek Youth Camp. We don't know the cause, but it was most likely something tossed from a passing car.

Thanks to quick action by a half-dozen fire departments, it was brought under control and no damage was done.

Then, in Brunswick Canyon, which is several miles from civilization, a fire erupted and soon spread to hundreds of acres. There are no houses to be threatened, yet there's little other explanation than that somebody was in the area and managed to throw off a spark.

For most people in Carson City, the danger to life and property from a wildland fire is fairly remote. Yet, as was illustrated on Tuesday, local, state and federal firefighters must throw a massive effort at wildfires in order to keep them from blowing up.

That means a relatively benign fire - a travel trailer also caught fire in a Carson City neighborhood on Tuesday - causes fire crews to scramble to cover it. Fortunately it wasn't a house, and thank goodness there were reserves and fire academy units to respond. That may not always be true as fire season progresses across the West.

The rules are pretty clear out in the woods or sage - no campfires, smoking welding, fireworks or open burning. Stay on the roads with your vehicles. And use your head.


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