Fire conference is June 3-4 |

Fire conference is June 3-4

by Merrie Leininger

Living in the Sierra foothills requires residents to be constantly aware of the dangers of wildfire.

A “Living with Fire” conference will be held June 3-4 at the Ormsby House in Carson City to raise awareness of the wildfire issues across the state and establish groups to create prevention programs in communities.

Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nevada, is the conference chairman and many other people are scheduled to speak, including California Fire Marshal Ronny Coleman and the national director of FEMA, James Lee Witt.

There also will be panel discussions among insurance, real estate, planning and utility personnel and with firefighting personnel.

“This is the first one in the state of Nevada where everyone will get together. What we’re trying to do is establish a commitment and get the stakeholders – anyone wildfire would effect what they do or where they live – to make decisions and go back to their community and start programs,” said Ronna Hubbard of Sierra Front Wildfire Cooperators.

Urban interface wildfire is a growing issue in Nevada, Hubbard said. More people are moving into areas where wildfire is a natural part of the ecosystem.

“As a bigger population moves up in the hills and moves into wildland areas, it becomes a wildland interface problem,” she said. “As our population grows, the problem will get worse. We need to work on it now.”

University of Nevada, Reno Cooperative Extension is the conference coordinator.

JoAnne Skelly, horticulturist with the Northnern Nevada offices of cooperative extension, said the issue is important for Douglas County residents.

“Particularly along the base of the Sierra, it is a problem. The Sierra front has an average of 400 wildfires a year. Almost all of those are controlled, but we are worried about the couple that might get out of control,” Skelly said. “We are hoping for some kind of action plan across Nevada.”

East Fork Fire Protection District Chief Jim Reinhardt will also be at the conference.

“Several years ago, FEMA came to Douglas County and rated wildland fire as the number one disaster facing Douglas County. We tend to forget about the problem during the winter time. In the last two years, we haven’t had any significant wildland fires in our area. So, the awareness level has kind of dropped off a little bit. This is a good reminder going into wildland fire season,” he said.

Reinhardt said he has attended other conferences in California, and he has seen how they help bring changes in the law and a better awareness of the problem.

“What I would like to see come out of the conference is a commitment from policy makers, planners and government officials to look at the problem as something that needs to be addressed through planning and zoning and adopting uniform codes that address those problems,” Reinhardt said.

Registration is $45 and includes lunches, breaks and materials for both days.

For more information, call conference coordinator Ed Smith at 782-9960.