East Fork fire trustees approve wildland urban interface rules

Firefighters hose down the site of a fire next to the Genoa Cemetery on June 17, 2022.

Firefighters hose down the site of a fire next to the Genoa Cemetery on June 17, 2022.

Douglas County is in the top 12 percent of counties at high risk of wildfire across the United States, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

According to the East Fork Fire Protection District, five homes were lost in the 2020 Numbers Fire and 13 in the 2021 Tamarack Fire, with four damaged.

“The fact is we do lose homes within the urban interface as a result of wildland fires and more homes are being built in the urban interface,” according to the district.

Around a third of Douglas housing units are in high or extreme wildfire risk categories, according to insurers. That amounts to around 7,900 homes, which is the second highest number in the state following only Washoe County.

The new regulations were approved 5-0 by East Fork trustees on May 16 after the county came forward with what was described as a last-minute complaint over striking the county building official from the regulation.

The regulations replace that with “the fire chief or their designee,” which could include the county inspector if fire district agreed.

The regulations are scheduled to take effect on July 1.

District officials have been working on the regulations for the past six months in an effort to decrease potential damage from wildland fires as homes push into the mountains.

Specific to the fire district, which covers all of Douglas County outside of the Lake Tahoe Basin, the regulations include establishing water supplies and building construction.

Determination of where the interface is located is based on the Nevada Division of Forestry online map that shows regional risk categories.

The map indicating the highest fire danger in Western Nevada can be viewed at nevadaresourcesandwildfireinfo.com

Where new homes are being built in areas designated as extreme and the property doesn’t allow 150 feet of defensible space, residential fire sprinklers and a fire protection plan are required.

Homes in designated areas would require standards for venting, eaves, gutters, decks and defensible space. Most homes destroyed in wildfires were ignited by embers, something construction can help prevent.

Storey County, Carson City, Sparks, Washoe County Building Department and the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District have adopted the regulations, according to the district.

For details on the regulations, visit eastforkfire.org


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