Gov. Brian Sandoval told Nevada ready for fire season | NevadaAppeal.com

Gov. Brian Sandoval told Nevada ready for fire season

Federal, state and local agencies on Wednesday warned Gov. Brian Sandoval this year's fire season may be another bad one.

But they assured him they're ready to handle whatever happens.

State Forester Casey KC said there will be fires because "there are a lot of fine, grassy fuels form last year."

"We did get the Miracle March but that actually grew more fuels," she told Sandoval at his annual fire season briefing.

Chris Smallcomb of the National Weather Service in Reno said that Miracle March raised the snowpack from 36 percent of normal in February to 85 percent of normal as of March 27 at Tahoe.

He said unfortunately it's too early to tell whether this will be a stormy summer, a wet or dry summer.

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He said they only get three to five days advance notice for extreme thunderstorm events. Those, he pointed out, are usually followed two days later by a wind event.

And if more rains come this spring, he warned, "the ground is still very, very wet."

"We could be dealing with flood events," he said.

Paul Peterson of the Bureau of Land Management said one concern is the growing percentage of human caused fires — 53 percent last year. He was joined by Nevada Division of Forestry, Fire Marshall's office and other officials in emphasizing the importance of teaching people how to avoid starting fires.

And, he told Sandoval, one of the major causes of human fire starts is target shooting. He said restrictions on target shooting last year were effective in reducing and even eliminating that problem and he expects the same restrictions will be put in place this year.

"Obviously those are 100 percent preventable," said Sandoval.

Fire Marshall Bart Chambers said they're working to educate gun enthusiasts, handing out targets at gun shows that have advice on preventing fires on the back.

Peterson said a major advancement in detecting wildland fires is the cameras being installed along the Sierra front and in the Tahoe Basin. Graham Kent of the UNR School of Mines, who's managing the camera installation program, said they're getting not only financial support but on the ground help putting in those cameras.

Kent said the cameras can spot a fire within 45 seconds, making for a much more rapid response by crews to control a blaze before it gets out of hand. He said they're looking forward to installing many more cameras this year.

"It seems to me this is one of the best advancements we have had in terms of early detection," said Sandoval.

"We are working well together," said KC. "We are well prepared and coordinated. We have sufficient equipment, personnel."