Hotter conditions and dryness

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If we thought 2013 was bad for brush fires, 2014 doesn’t promise any relief because of the conditions.

Face it. Nevada, Churchill County and most of the West face a gloomy summer with the potential of thousands — if the not millions — of acres going up in smoke this year because of the right conditions: Hot weather, no precipitation and wind.

For the past month, the Fallon/Churchill Fire and Naval Air Station Fallon Federal Fire departments have been busy by responding to numerous controlled burns that have escaped their perimeters and then threatened buildings or other people’s property.

This seems to be a repeat news account from previous years.

Every brushfire incident ties up firefighters for a good portion of the day, thus taking away valuable resources in case of a major blaze, such as a structure fire, were to occur. Unnecessary calls like this are also a drain on the county’s budget.

Burning weeds or other types of vegetation should immediately dictate homeowners to know of the unpredictable weather conditions in Northern Nevada during any time of year. Normally, most of the reports of uncontrolled burns occur before growing season or near the end of summer when residents prepare the land for the next year.

We have seen controlled burns move quickly, racing across dry vegetation and then destroying a fence line or outer buildings like a shop or garage. Sometimes, we have seen fire damage a house.

As the weather becomes warmer and the conditions remain drier, we see the potential for more out-of-control fires.

Even forest fires hundreds of miles from Fallon can have a devastating effect, especially with the choking smoke.

For starters, many fire departments recommend residents keep a buffer of at least 30 feet between vegetation and their house and outer buildings; also, when landowners decide to burn vegetation, they must have an ample source of water nearby and be cognizant of the weather conditions. In the Lahontan Valley, fire officials said the best time to burn is usually in the early mornings, not later in the day when the afternoon breezes kick up.

Additionally, if the fire grows uncontrollably larger or the winds begin to increase, the resident should call 911 immediately and not assume someone else will call the fire department.

When in doubt about conditions, though, we strongly suggest people who want to burn call the fire department and ask the fire marshal about the proper precautions to take.

By doing so, we avoid Churchill County literally going up in smoke.

Editorials are written by the LVN Editorial Board and appear on Wednesdays.


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