Four new fires could be part of ‘suspicious’ pattern |

Four new fires could be part of ‘suspicious’ pattern

by F.t. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Firefighters work to extinguish a brush fire near the Carson River on Sierra Vista Lane Monday afternoon. That fire was kept to less than an acre before firefighters scrambled to fight two more brush fires off North Sutro Terrace and at Hytek and Arrowhead roads.

A fire investigation task force is set to meet today to discuss a series of wildland fires recently that have left everyone wondering if someone is setting them intentionally.

Added to the list Monday were four fires called “suspicious” by law enforcement after three began within an hour of each other.

Fire Chief Stacey Giomi said the first fire, about 5 p.m. on Sierra Vista Lane at Carson River Road, burned an acre before crews controlled it.

With firefighters still on that blaze, a call came in for a fire on Sutro Terrace near Highway 395. That fire scorched less than an acre before another fire was reported at Hytek and Arrowhead drives. Four acres and five slurry drops later, Giomi said, the fire was contained.

At 9:22 p.m., 2-plus acres burned at the end of Imus Road near Heaven Hill Road at the gate of the Carson Quarry Co. pit. Firefighters were concerned when the wind blew the flames toward house, but then it switched direction.

“Sure, it makes me a little suspicious,” he said. “But also the cheatgrass loading is so heavy right now, it takes very little to start a fire.”

The latest wildland fires are just a few in a series of blazes that have plagued Northern Nevada for the past few weeks.

Last week, 736 acres burned in Brunswick Canyon, and on Friday, a small fire began on Spooner Summit, threatening Clear Creek Road homes.

With each fire happening on city, state and federal lands and having their own investigators, Giomi said the group plans to compare notes to see if there is a common thread among the incidents.

“All of these have been right near roads but it’s premature to say it’s arson. We’re looking into everything,” he said. “We haven’t had a crop of cheatgrass like this in years so these fire move fast, and it’s very difficult to get ahead of them.”

Giomi cautioned people against riding vehicles in the hills because a hot undercarriage is enough to spark a blaze. If someone is riding in the mountains, they should stay on the dirt roads. He also said if something seems suspicious, people should call 911.

“We’d rather have phone calls and have things turn out to be nothing, than this,” he said pointing to scorched earth behind him.