Clear Creek gets help protecting homes from wildfire | NevadaAppeal.com

Clear Creek gets help protecting homes from wildfire

Jill Lufrano
Belinda Grant/Nevada Appeal Carson City Fire Marshall Stacey Giomi talks about fire breaks on the hill behind him at the Arnold property on Clear Creek Road. The top of the hill has been cleared, while the middle still needs to be cleared for defensible space.
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Homeowner Mike Arnold peered over the edge of his property Monday and pointed out areas recently cleared of several bushes and trees. As always, an afternoon wind picked up and blew gusts over his Old Clear Creek Road property.

Even though he has a ready source of water, a weather gauge and an action plan to save his house, Arnold keeps an eye out for any sign of fire that winds could spread over the area. He watched Monday as a contractor continued fire-prevention work on heavy vegetation below.

“This is the kind of thing that makes it possible to live in a place like this with a little peace of mind,” Arnold said.

With a $33,000 Healthy Forests Initiative grant, the Carson City Fire Department is working with the local chapter of the Nevada Fire Safe Council to clear fire breaks and create defensible space around homes. Up to 50 percent of brush is cleared from strategic areas to slow fire long enough to give firefighters enough time to maintain it.

“It’s still communicable, but the fire is not as aggressive,” said Fire Marshal Stacey Giomi.

The Clear Creek area hasn’t been threatened by a major wildfire in at least 10 years. Last year, though, a section that caught fire across Highway 50 West did spread flames to the community, Giomi said.

Teaming with homeowners allows the city to do more fire-prevention work, but residents also need to do their part.

“Once we do the work and reduce the fuels, they need to keep it that way,” Giomi said.

Efforts will focus on Lakeview, Timberline, Kings Canyon, C Hill and Clear Creek neighborhoods this year.

The Carson Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest announced additional plans to reduce hazardous fire fuels in Clear Creek and Voltaire and Kings canyons watersheds Monday.

“This is our Capital City’s scenic backdrop,” said District Ranger Gary Schiff. “We need to do what we can to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.”

The district’s long-term strategy, still under public review, would focus on Douglas County property along Clear Creek.

“Definitely, our Clear Creek analysis shows a large section in the upper watershed in need of fuels work,” Schiff said.

“We would thin the forest in patches so fire would lay down on ground if it gets a wildfire. We would also do brush clearing and thinning to provide fuel breaks on private land boundaries.”

The strategy, scheduled to be finalized by Sept. 30, would allow the ranger district to begin work as early as next year. The strategy also includes improving trails, establishing trailheads, more law enforcement to eliminate traditional party areas, and a travel-management plan.

Contact Jill Lufrano at jlufrano@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.