Put out the fire

Since the session just ended Monday, you probably thought we’d have an editorial either congratulating or castigating the Nevada Legislature on its stellar cooperation or damnable partisanship. Well, as someone recently pointed out, it’s the well-thought-out editorial that really makes an impact. On the other hand, newspapers that discuss current events—the conversations people are having over dinner—can also encourage change.

So here we go. Isn’t this rain and lightning beautiful and inspiring? Those ions just make us feel a sense of anticipation of the coming summer and fire season.

These recent rains have actually been a good run up to fire season, and the lightning reminds us that fires can strike at any time of year. The rain will help desert plant life to flourish, and in coming weeks, we can expect greener hillsides. The unfortunate part of that is that as late spring fades into summer, that growth will soon turn brown, creating even more and faster-burning fuel when the summer heat lightning hits. So, while it’s cool, homeowners may want to take advantage of these fire threat reduction tips offered by the Washoe County Cooperative Extension’s “Living With Fire” program.

Please note, the Cooperative Extension’s website offers far more information than can be found in any editorial in simple, straightforward language. Just go to www.livingwithfire.info, and check things out. There are three important areas near the upper right corner of the page: Before the fire; after the fire; and during the fire. Click on any of these to get the interactive window.

Essentially, the program looks at the property from four zones: The Built Zone, which includes recommendations for home construction and routine maintenance; the Access Zone, which helps firefighters locate and arrive at your home in a timely way; the Interior Zone, which includes recommendations for inside the home; and the Defensible Space Zone, which deals with the vegetation—ornamental and native—near your home.

For the types of fires we’re talking about in this editorial, we’re most concerned about the defensible space around the home. First, make sure there is a 3-feet-wide non-combustible area around the home. According to the site, “Use irrigated herbaceous plants (such as lawn, ground covers, and flowers), rock mulches or hard surfaces (such as concrete, brick, and pavers) within three feet of your home. Keep this area free of woodpiles, wood mulches, dead plants, dried leaves and needles, flammable shrubs (such as juniper), and debris.”

Next, there should be a “Lean, Clean, and Green Area” at least 30 feet from the home. “Lean” means only have a little flammable vegetation, if any. “Clean” means there is no dead vegetation or flammable debris. “Green” implies that plants are kept green and irrigated during the fire season.

Outside of that area is the Wildland Fuel Reduction area. There are recommendations for clearing and maintenance of the wild areas on the site.

This, as is almost always the case in the high desert, looks like it might be a very hot summer. Homeowners who prepare for the heat and dry now may not look so half-baked come August.