The Lyon fire in New Washoe City last week burned 10 acres and two outbuildings. We were lucky that, even though there were strong winds, the fire angled across mostly open ground and was stopped by a quick response by local responders before it reached homes. A “hat-tip” to our local fire crews! Living With Fire has issued these tips for handling stove and fireplace ashes:
The Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Department in cooperation with Pleasant Valley Elementary School has set up an account to allow the community to donate to the victims of the Washoe Drive fire. People wishing to donate can go to any Wells Fargo branch and reference; Pleasant Valley VFD Washoe Drive Fire Victims Fund acct # 9932426530. I am available any time for questions.
Shawn Wilburn, Chief
Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Department
Every time a wildfire would occur my wife would ask me if we had anything to worry about. I said, No, There is a buffer of 10-20 houses between us and the wildlands. Now that I have seen what a bucket of fireplace ashes in 80mph winds can do, I realize none of us can ignore the threat. Thousands of burning embers were transported hundreds of yards to land on tinder-dry vegetation and homes. Every minute, as the fire blew closer at 80mph, more and hotter embers arrived to make just escaping the only option. The embers blew over and around many homes sparing them only to ignite homes further away, sending my theory “up in smoke”.
The very similar Caughlin Fire in Reno, just two months ago, should have been all that was needed, but just that distance made the lesson abstract to me and it didn’t hit home until I saw the wind and flames from my own deck.
Personally, we will pay even more attention to fire safety around the house. Over the last several years fires have been started by abandoned yard waste burning, construction work, downed power lines, kids partying, unsupervised kids camping, and now, fireplace ashes. These are all areas where we should be vigilant. Also, we will make an evacuation plan: Learn the escape routes, organize our valuables (including livestock) for quick movement, and set up communication plans with family members.
On washoevalley.org I will permanently post the link to livingwithfire.com, the local site on how to prepare and manage and survive just such an emergency. I know a couple of years ago a group in the valley sought to organize a community plan for these emergencies and I will try to find out if it was implemented. If anyone knows, let me know and I will add it to this website.
Hopefully, our run of regional bad luck is over and we will never see another such fire. But the odds are against that. I also used to brag to family around the country that here in Nevada, we don’t have “natural disasters”. I think I should acknowledge that we do and be prepared.
Our thoughts go out to our neighbors that have been impacted by this fire and I hope if those that need assistance and those that can provide it will use this site to communicate and coordinate.