Firefighters can’t contain fire’s erratic behavior | NevadaAppeal.com

Firefighters can’t contain fire’s erratic behavior

The Waterfall Fire continues to burn out of control Thursday, July 15, 2004, in Carson City, Nev. after destroying more than 8,500 acres and 21 structures. This home in Kings Canyon was one of several lost Wednesday in a firestorm that destroyed several fire trucks and injured firefighters. (AP Photo/Nevada Appeal, Cathleen Allison)
ALL |

All firefighting efforts to control the Waterfall fire have failed, officials said today.

The best possible outcome for the next few days is for flames to be directed away from homes as fire continues to jump fire breaks and retardant drops, said acting Carson City Fire Chief Stacey Giomi.

The fire started in a small canyon that was difficult to get to and with vegetation so dry, trees exploded and sagebrush shot flames as high as 15 feet.

Fire crews who hiked into the area were quickly pulled back out as firefighters waited for helicopters and air support Wednesday.

“It seems like all our control efforts were not particularly successful,” said U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Gary Schiff.

Live trees in the area have less than 8 percent moisture, making them drier than a 2-by-4 piece of lumber. Even the heaviest timber and fuels are the driest the area has ever seen, said Pete Anderson, state forester with the Nevada Department of Forestry.

Firefighters are seeing what they call “extreme fire behavior.” With beyond-dry conditions, winds and overgrown mountainous terrain, there is simply no way to take control at this point, officials say.

“I’ve never seen the behavior as bad as this fire,” Giomi said.

Fire is jumping over retardant drops and throwing ash that quickly catches in spot fires far in front of where the main body of fire is. With moist conditions, the ash would burn out before landing.

The city has thinned 30 percent to 50 percent of the brush from the Lakeview Estates area and was working in Timberline to create fire breaks. But, with the extreme and erratic behavior, it is uncertain whether those efforts will pay off if the fire diverts back into the area, Giomi said.

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