A plume of smoke from the Washington fire near Markleville, Calif., floated into Churchill County on Sunday afternoon, giving residents their first glimpse of the 2015 fire season.
Although Nevada and neighboring California have their share of forest and wildland fires each year, the right conditions could ignite either state like a tinderbox. Dense smoke — for example, from two California fires in 2013 — covered Churchill County and western Nevada for days.
The conditions are ripe for this summer to be a bad fire season because of the drought, high temperatures and late afternoon winds. Water levels in the reservoirs west of Reno, which during past years have aided firefighters with helicopter bucket drops, are dropping rapidly.
Although Churchill County doesn’t experience bad wildland fires like other areas, residents, nevertheless, must be aware of the conditions not only here but also in other parts of the Silver State and California. Four years of drought and expected higher than normal temperatures later this week have made the situation worse.
The first Red Flag Warning for western Nevada was also issued last weekend. The warning issued by the National Weather Service encompasses a combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures that will create an explosive fire growth potential. A Fire Weather Watch predicts critical fire weather conditions are forecast to occur.
The Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the Nevada Division of Forestry have issued precautions for those using the land.
Never leave a campfire unattended, and extinguish all campfires completely.
Dispose of cigarettes in proper containers away from any flammable material.
If off-road vehicle use is allowed, internal combustion equipment should have a spark arrester.
Avoid driving though dry vegetation or parking vehicles in high grass or dry vegetation.
Never use stoves, lanterns or heaters inside a tent.
Store flammable liquid containers in a safe place.
Do not shoot tracer bullets, incendiary ammunition or exploding targets.
Do not shoot in areas of dry fuels especially in times of extreme conditions such as Red Flag warnings.
Shoot only at cardboard or paper targets or manufactured thrown-type clay targets. Shots fired across open desert can travel more than a mile and can cause a wildfire.
At the first sign of a wildfire, individuals should contact the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center at 775-883-5995 or call 911.
We all have a part in ensuring this fire season does not live up to its potential whether it’s here in Churchill County or elsewhere.
Editorials are the opinion of the LVN Editorial Board and appear on Wednesdays