Report: Prescribed burn escape cause of Little Valley Fire
A fire that raged through one of Western Nevada’s most exclusive neighborhoods, claiming 23 homes, was the result of a prescribed burn that rekindled in high winds.
An independent investigation released on Wednesday revealed that embers from the burn conducted by the Nevada Division of Forestry was blown into surrounding vegetation by 80 mph wind gusts on Oct. 14.
In a letter issued Wednesday, Kay Scherer, interim director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, has called for an escaped prescribed fire review.
“An escaped prescribed fire review is an in-depth, formal and independent review performed by persons across the nation, representing multiple jurisdictions and areas of knowledge,” Scherer wrote in her letter. “The intent of ordering this formal review, protocol for an escaped prescribed fire, is to gain additional, valuable information regarding the escaped burn.”
The Nevada Division of Forestry issued the following statement: “The Nevada Division of Forestry is deeply moved by and concerned with the tragic impacts to the residents of west Washoe Valley. NDF staff has worked closely with many of these residents over the years and has offered conservation crews and natural resource specialists as part of the recovery team.”
Dennis Terry was asked by the Bureau of Land Management to investigate the cause of the fire. He determined the cause of the fire was due to an escape of a prescribed fire that was initiated on Oct. 4.
He stated the Little Valley Fire originated in an area 15 to 20 feet from the control line of the prescribed burn.
He said winds at the time were 16 to 20 mph with gusts of more than 80 mph.
Terry also ruled out all other possible causes, including lightning, equipment use, smoking and campfires.
The Little Valley Fire, which began on Oct. 14, burned 2,291 acres and destroyed 23 homes and 17 outbuildings.