It might feel like a stretch to think about the dangers of wildfires when it's raining every other day, but fire prevention officials say lots of winter and spring snow and rain mean fire danger could be heightened by August.
"All this moisture means it's pretty scary because there will be a lot of new growth which will dry out by August unless it stays wet out there, and we all know that doesn't happen," said Sonya Sistare, wildfire project coordinator for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.
"If people don't take care of their properties, it could be dangerous for them. By August, when it's hot, if things are not mowed down, we could be in trouble," she said. "We want people to get started cleaning out their defensible space."
Wildfire Awareness Week starts Sunday with a new campaign, "Wildfire Awareness - It takes a community," which emphasizes that everyone has a role.
The week includes activities throughout the state, including open houses, yard cleanup events, public service announcements on KTVN Channel 2, but also this year, a new poster has been created that will be displayed throughout the state, Sistare said.
The poster features a photo of 20 Nevada leaders committed to keeping the state safe from the ravages of wildfires. Some of those in the photo are from Carson City and Gardnerville, including sheep rancher Ted Borda, who provides his sheep every spring to eat cheat grass off the hills on the west side of town, and Carson City Open Space Manager Juan Guzman.
"Nevada is lucky because all of our agencies get along and cooperate with each other," she said, "from local to BLM (Bureau of Land Management) to NDF (Nevada Division of Forestry) and more. When we're planning, we video-conference so everyone can be involved."
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Natural Resource Specialist Ed Smith, coordinator of the Living With Fire program, said this year's message focuses on the different roles community members play in reducing the wildfire threat.
"Traditionally, we assumed that it was the fire deparment's responsibility to protect our homes from wildfire. But in reality, homeowners, builders, roofers, landscapers and others have important roles in making communities more fire resistant," Smith said.
"Together we can protect our lives and property by creating defensible space, preparing for evacuation, working with local fire departments to identify wildfire hazards, and using ignition-resistant building materials," he said. "This year's Wildfire Awareness Week is about creating awareness of the roles we all have in preparing our communities to survive a wildfire."
FIRE SAFETY WEEK ACTIVITIES:
• Sunday, Community Evacuation Drill and Public Fire Awareness Fair: From 9 a.m.-noon in the Mexican Dam Pinion Hills community, the Carson City Fire Department will conduct a neighborhood evacuation drill for residents. Although it is voluntary, they do ask for participation to validate their training and to prepare residents and their families for an emergency in the neighborhood. When asked to evacuate, proceed to Seeliger Elementary School, 2800 S. Saliman Road. To show appreciation there will be free food and drinks for participants. Call Gary Dunn at 775-283-7163 or Lee Radtke at 775-297-2288.
• May 5, Nevada Wildfire Awareness Day at the Legislature: From 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at 401 S. Carson St., the public is invited to participate by sitting in the gallery during the sessions, where representatives of the Nevada Wildfire Awareness Week will be recognized. Plan to meet at the "Living With Fire" display in the foyer by 10:30 a.m. Sessions usually begin at 11 a.m., but are subject to delay. Schedules are posted the day prior at www.leg.state.nv.us/. For more information, contact Sonya Sistare at 775-336-0271.
• May 7, Junk the Junipers: From 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the south end of the Galaxy Theater parking lot, the Carson City Fire Department, Nevada Fire Safe Council and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension are encouraging residents of Carson City to remove the ornamental junipers located within the first 30-feet of their home and drop them off for free disposal. In exchange, participants will receive a coupon from Greenhouse Garden Center for either a free replacement plant or 50 percent off of up to 10 shrubs or perennials - limit one coupon per household. As an added bonus, Casino Fandango has also donated coupons for a spin on their E-Cash Wheel with 50 points earned! For more information, call Pat Murphy at 775-846-5500.
• Lakeview Community Fuel Pickup and Picnic: From 8 a.m.-3 p.m., curbside pickup of brush will be provided. A picnic is being planned from noon-2 p.m., at the entrance on Hobart Road. Check with Marie Bresch for more details, or contact Pat Murphy at 846-5500.