An annual message: be careful when burning
Like last year, a wet spring gives residents a false sense of security, especially when our neighbors decide to burn their fields to rid the land of weeds and other unwanted vegetation.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a wet or dry spring, the Lahontan Valley experiences its share of out-of-control brush fires started by ranchers or farmers clearing unnecessary growth. So far this spring the Fallon Churchill Volunteer Fire Department and Fed Fire from Naval Air Station have also been responding to controlled burns that have jumped their boundaries, especially on days when the afternoon winds pick up. This spring of 2018 had been very windy as evidenced by the past two weeks.
Gusty winds, cooler temperatures and rain for the past two weeks plays games with county residents, but after this week, temperatures may warm up into the 70s and eventually into the 80s. By May, 90-degree temperatures begin to bake the valley.
Lahontan Valley farmers and ranchers have been burning weeds and grass for a month or so and will continue to do so in the weeks ahead. While many Lahontan Valley residents are aware of the climatic elements such as windy weather, others, unfortunately, decide to take a chance and are embarrassed when the fire department must contain the flames.
Residents who burn weeds or other types of vegetation should know of this area’s unpredictable weather conditions in Northern Nevada during the spring, and again, like last year, this spring has been unpredictable. Every spring, residents sense when a brush fire has jumped its perimeter, especially with the number of fire sirens going off during the day.
Our two area fire departments continually respond year after year to many controlled burns that have escaped their perimeters and then threaten buildings or other people’s property. Fences tend to be the most commonly burned structures followed by outer buildings. Sometimes, we have seen fire damage destroy a house.
Controlled burns can also move quickly if proper precautions are ignored. Incidents involving these types of fire usually tie up firefighters and take away valuable resources in case a major fire were to occur or an incident occurred because of flooding. Unnecessary calls like this are also a drain on the county’s resources.
Every year we like to remind of the advice given to residents from the fire department:
Keep a good, wide buffer of at least 30 feet between vegetation and the house and outer buildings;
• Have an ample source of water nearby;
• Be aware of weather conditions;
• Burn during the early mornings hours, not later in the day when the afternoon breezes kick up.
• Call 911 immediately and not assume someone else will call the fire department if the fire grows uncontrollably larger or the winds begin to increase.
When in doubt about conditions, though, we strongly suggest people who want to burn call the fire department and ask the fire marshal about the proper precautions to take.