Firefighters prepare for long season

Last weekend’s rain may have been sufficient to grow weeds and grass, but it hasn’t done much to hydrate fuels that could turn into a wildfire this season.

“Everyone who lives here knows how dry it is,” East Fork Fire Marshal Steve Eisele said. “We are ahead of schedule when it comes to the season.”

But fire requires more than fuel. It also requires an ignition source.

“If we don’t get starts, we won’t have fires,” he said. “If we can eliminate accidental starts then we just have to worry about Mother Nature.”

The causes of the recent large fires in Douglas County were split between humans and Mother Nature.

In the case of the July 4, 2013, Bison fire, the largest in Douglas County history, the cause was lightning.

But two major fires before that in the Pine Nuts were set by human misadventure, including the 7,500-acre TRE fire, which took seven houses in South County in 2012.

That fire was started by a controlled burn that was picked up by the wind.

Eisele said that was one of the reasons the East Fork Fire District held backyard burning a month early this year.

The Wildfire Sand Table Exercise at the Douglas County Fairgrounds attracted 180 firefighters from agencies across the Sierra Front.

It’s not the first time the exercise has been held in Douglas County, but generally it has been at Station 12 in Indian Hills.

Eisele said the fairgrounds was a better location.

“This works out good because there are a lot of people,” he said. “The parking lot is full of equipment.”

Residents in the Pine Nuts above the fairgrounds were cooperative in the training, which included units in the field.

Spokeswoman Tia Rancourt said the exercise is an opportunity for members of the Sierra Front Wildfire Cooperators to work together before a wildfire occurs.

The exercise includes elements of operations, planning and logistics, she said.


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