Fire danger still critical as Labor Day approaches | NevadaAppeal.com

Fire danger still critical as Labor Day approaches

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer

The approach of Labor Day and the ringing of school bells signals the end of summer for many Nevadans and with it the close of the outdoor season.

Yet the danger of wildfires remains critically high, despite the loss of nearly 1.2 million acres statewide in what State Forester Pete Anderson calls an “environmental disaster.”

“The social, economic and natural resource impacts (of these fires) will continue for many years to come,” Anderson said.

While Elko County has suffered the brunt of the damage, including the 80,000-plus acre Suzie Fire earlier this summer, the 190,000-plus-acre Charleston complex located 55 miles north of Elko and the still active 22,813-acre Snow Canyon blaze, the Truckee Meadows isn’t lacking for fire damage.

Northern Nevada has lost more than 5 million acres to wildfire over the last seven years resulting in millions of dollars in fire suppression and rehabilitation costs.

“Nevada and all of us who live and enjoy our beautiful and diverse environment are faced with a real environmental disaster,” Anderson said.

Among the largest fire complexes in the area was the Sierra-Tahoe Complex of 16 fires that broke out in late June, including the Linehan fire which encompassed almost 5,900 acres in Carson City, Storey and Lyon counties.

The total cost to combat those fires was $1.8 million, including $650,000 for the Linehan fire.

“While the Division of Forestry and our federal partners are preparing for extensive rehabilitation efforts on fire-damaged lands, only a small percentage may actually be treated,” Anderson said. “The magnitude of this year’s devastation far exceeds available rehabilitation resources.”

Anderson said residents need to be aware of the explosive nature created by drying vegetation and high levels of cheatgrass.

“Unfortunately conditions remain extreme and the public must be extremely careful while engaged in any heat-producing activity,” Anderson said. “As we approach the Labor Day holiday, it is imperative that every Nevada resident be cautious while enjoying our wonderful outdoors. I implore people to stay on designated roads, carry water, a shovel and to please prevent wildfires.”

The Nevada Division of Forestry expects the fire danger to remain critical through the Labor Day Weekend, with temperatures in the 80s and intermittent winds forecasted through the end of the week.

A Fire Weather Watch has been issued for Tuesday afternoon and evening. Strong afternoon winds mixed with low humidity are expected to produce hazardous fire weather conditions, according to the National Weather Service.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.