Tribal worker causes fire |

Tribal worker causes fire

by Christy Chalmers

A Washoe Tribe worker doing weed abatement work caused a fire that burned more than 150 acres of range land south of Dresslerville Wednesday, fire officials said.

The fire, reported just before 10 a.m., was controlled by noon with resources from the East Fork Fire District, Bureau of Land Management and the Nevada Division of Forestry.

East Fork Deputy Chief Steve Eisele said Washoe Tribal Police determined a tribal worker, whose name wasn’t released, was responsible for the fire. Moderate breezes fanned it south to public lands west of the Carson River’s east fork, where it burned up and over a hill and into a valley.

Tribal Police Chief Rick Norris said Thursday the investigation had not been completed. Any results, he said, will be submitted to the tribal prosecutor for a decision on whether criminal charges are warranted.

Air tankers and a helicopter doused the blaze. Hand crews used water hoses to mop it up.

The fire didn’t threaten any homes, but Alfred Judd and Edith “Sally” Landino were happy to have crews from the Fish Springs and Gardnerville Ranchos volunteer fire departments standing by as they watched flames lick the ridge above their home.

Landino said she saw the fire start.

“It was just a little spot and then it just went right uphill,” she said.

“It came this way pretty good for a few minutes,” said Judd. “(Sally) called me and I told her to call 911 before it got up in the rocks.”

Officials estimated 150-200 acres burned. Eisele said low humidity and dry fuels could have produced a devastating fire had the winds been stronger.

“It started to move pretty good once it got up toward the ridge,” he said. “I’m glad we didn’t have a wind going back the other way where it could have been blown back over the bluffs or into the residential area.”

Though the fire was quickly extinguished, Eisele warned residents to be careful because conditions are prime for wildland fires.

“With the afternoon winds we’ve been receiving, we have to be very careful. Anything becomes an ignition source,” he said. “We’re lucky we didn’t have winds on it, or this thing would just be running.”