Waiting for the other shoe

Mapping for the next three months of this year shows a significant wildland fire potential creeping into far northwestern Nevada, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center.

Significant growth of shrubs and grasses across the Silver State may be last winter’s parting gift to the state’s wildlands, which are drying out under a hot summer sun.

For the next couple of months wet conditions and a late snowmelt will keep fires down in the Sierra, forecasters said.

That’s not going to last forever, though, and some of the most deadly wildfires in the West have occurred in the fall.

The Camp Fire claimed 85 lives in Paradise, Calif., in November 2018. The previous year, the Tubbs Fire saw 22 deaths near Napa in October.

The eastern Sierra wasn’t immune, with Walker, Calif., poet Sallie Joseph dying in the Mountain View Fire that claimed 80 structures on Nov. 17, 2020. The winds that day were horrendous with fires starting all up and down the Sierra Front, attributed in part to downed power lines and rekindled controlled burns.

As the horror of the aftermath of the Maui wildfires unfolds and the death toll on the island continues to climb, it’s important to recognize that the conditions there aren’t so different from those in the mountains around Carson Valley.

We’ve seen several instances where high winds have caught wildfires and sent them raging out of the mountains before residents or firefighters could react.

The three mega fires burning with 100 miles of Carson Valley during 2021, destroyed more than 2,000 square miles of land. The recovery from the Tamarack Fire is still underway in the south county.

There are efforts to make the Sierra safer, but the cavalry rarely arrives on time. That’s why we all need to take safety into our own hands and use the extra time this last winter has given us to prepare for the fall.


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