Defensible space saves day

Defensible space is being credited with preserving homes from a fire that burned east of Fish Springs on Friday.

Fire Marshal Steve Eisele said work done by the Pine Nut Creek Chapter of the Fire Safe Council helped save the homes along Lena Lane from the fire.

"The Pine Nut Creek residents did a lot of very good defensible space work around their property, thinning the sage, juniper and piƱon pine," he said. "When the fire occurred, it burned up to their properties. The defensible space allowed two things to happen. The fire started to run out of fuel and it gave a safe area for the firefighters to work to defend all the structures on the property."

While the neighborhood doesn't have fire hydrants, many residents had private water tanks and there were some placed by the Fire Safe Council as well.

"Right now it really dry out there," he said. "We haven't had moisture in more than 80 days."

Response to the fire, which was called in at 5 p.m. from a home on Pinenut Road was quick.

Two air tankers and a helicopter responded to the fire along with engines from the East Fork Fire District, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The cause of the fire is undetermined.

The fire was so close to the homes in the area, it was originally called in as a structure fire.

"A buffer does not mean removing all of the fuel, but part of it so the fire has to work harder to maintain heat to get to the house," Eisele said.

Besides reducing the amount of fuel for an area of at least 30 feet around the homes, defensible space may also include keeping vegetation near homes watered.

"There's all types of things people can do that changes the fuel structure and adds to that defensible space and protection of their home," he said.

Defensible space around a home can also prevent it from catching the surrounding wildland on fire, Eisele said.

"We were very fortunate we didn't lose any homes, everybody was working closely to get these fires out."

Western Nevada Fire Safe Council Coordinator Pat Murphy said work began in the area in 2004 with a grant from the BLM.

"It was undoubtedly the defensible space that helped save the property," Murphy said.

Murphy said one of the dangers of removing a lot of native vegetation is that cheat grass will grow up where it was.

"When we go in and remove sagebrush, we try to reseed native grasses where it is practical. Otherwise we'll spray a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall before the cheat grass grows. It works very well on non-native plants and won't affect any of the perennials out there like the sagebrush."


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment