Wildfires Sear Northern Nevada, Edge Hungry Valley

It has been called a wildfire season on steroids, and Hungry Valley Volunteer Fire Management Coordinator Lance Chantler agrees that 2017 has been like no other.

“There are so many volatile fuels—cheat grass, sage brush, even juniper, which can start a fire very easily,” Chantler said. “All conditions indicate that in the coming weeks and months, conditions will remain very dry and any spark can start a fire, so we will remain vigilante.”

Indeed, residents of Hungry Valley saw firsthand the uncertainty and daunting anxiety which accompanies wildfire as the Long Valley Fire skirted our tribal community last month.

Sparked on July 11, the Long Valley Fire took 10 days of intense firefighting against unpredictable winds, extremely high temperatures, and saturating humidity finally to control the blaze which burnt  83,733 acres, or about 131 square miles.

For the Hungry Valley residents, besides the plumes of smoke, the glow of the Long Valley Fire could be seen after sundown which added to the unease.

“As per our protocols, we were in direct communication with the Long Valley Command Post,” Chantler said. “We have great partners in the SoCal Fire, Bureau of Land Management and all the area agencies which were equipped and ready had the fire remained dynamic and reached our trigger point, which it never did.”

In addition to the fire department, other Reno-Sparks Indian Colony representatives attended the daily operational briefings and the planning briefings. Throughout the active event, RSIC Emergency Management Services including law enforcement, public works, housing and public information personnel were on call.

The Long Valley Fire started near the California / Nevada border town of Doyle and travelled southeast toward Moonstone and Winnemucca Ranch roads.

The fire burned into the north end of Spanish Springs, and in its later stages, the fire moved eastward toward Pyramid Lake. Advisory evacuation orders were issued for Sutcliff, Grass Valley and Palomino Valley.

At one point Pyramid Highway, SR 445, was closed in both directions just north of SR 446 before the fire was contained on Tule Ridge and Dogskin Mountains.

Since the Long Valley Fire in late July, the Hungry Valley Fire Department was first on the scene and the lead agency, at two small fires, one on and one off the Hungry Valley land base.

“Our crew did an excellent job in especially difficult conditions, containing a 13.62 acre fire on the reservation,” Chantler said. “Since we had been working nearly two straight weeks, this effort was especially significant.”

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With continued high temperatures, winds and low humidity, Northern Nevada and much of the entire western part of the United States has endured several red flag warning days.

A Red Flag Warning is a forecast warning issued by the United States National Weather Service to inform area firefighting and land management agencies that conditions are ideal for wildland fire combustion, and rapid spread.

See the following link for red flag warnings: https://forecast.weather.gov/wwamap/wwatxtget.php?cwa=usa&wwa=Red%20Flag%20Warning

In addition, warnings and updates about regional wildfires will be sent via the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s emergency alert system, via employee email, and at the Colony’s website.

Please remember, wildfire conditions can change quickly without warning and human interference can threaten lives.

“We have had reports of people parking on Eagle Canyon road to watch the fires,” said RSIC / Hungry Valley Fire Management Coordinator Lance Chantler.  “Blocking access roads is a hazard to responders and ultimately, the community.

He said that during the nearby Prater Fire in Sparks, so many cars blocked the road that law enforcement had to assist.

Chantler also emphasized that drones complicate and disrupt emergency efforts. â

“Drone use during a fire needs to stop,” Chantler said. “A drone anywhere in the Valley could hamper firefighting aircraft.”

Residents living in or around a fire area like Hungry Valley, can monitor conditions at the following link:     https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

Also KOH AM radio 780 is our civil alert emergency radio. Tune in to get breaking news.

Finally, to sign up for alerts, contact RSIC Emergency Services Manager, David Hunkup at dhunkup@rsic.org or by phone at: (775) 997-3524.

The cause of the Long Valley Fire is still under investigation.