How to stay safe when wildfires strike, and they are inevitable in our climate, is something all Reno / Tahoe residents need to know. Our weather, vegetation, and geography all combine to make fires a natural part of the landscape in northern Nevada and throughout the West. The environment adapted to being periodically burned over long before we started moving in and pays little respect to our attempts at altering the natural order to suit our purposes. Learning more about living with wildfires will help you protect your property and may save your life.
Be Prepared for Reno / Tahoe Wildfires
Wildfires will happen, guaranteed. Everyone living near or within an area prone to fire owes it to themselves, their neighbors, and the firefighters who come to their aid, to foster wildfire safety. Learn what to do, then do it. Prepare your home and property for wildfire. It's too late once the flames are bearing down on you. In addition to the links below, refer to "Fire Departments in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County" for information about contacting these agencies to request fire prevention assistance.
- Living With Fire Tip #1: Firefighting Tools You Already Own
- Learn About Defensible Space to Protect Your Property
- Nevada Division of Forestry Wildland Fire Protection Program
Learn More About Wildfire Monitoring, Prevention, and Safety
- Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month: Held each year in May to build awareness and encourage action to reduce the wildfire threat to Nevada homes and communities. Workshops, events, and programs are scheduled throughout the Silver State.
- BLM Learning Landscapes: Burning Issues: Interactive multimedia information for teachers and students, from the Bureau of Land Management and Florida State University.
- National Weather Service Fire Weather News
- National Interagency Fire Center
Wildfires Can Happen to Anyone, Anytime
Examples of recent wildfires that caused extensive damage provide graphic evidence of the need for wildfire safety around Reno / Tahoe.
In January, 2012, the Washoe Drive Fire raged through Washoe Valley and Pleasant Valley, just south of Reno. The fire was contained at 3,177 acres, but not before destroying 29 homes, causing numerous evacuations, and closing U.S. 395 for a time.
Just after midnight on November 18, 2011, a wildfire started by arcing power lines took off in the southwest part of Reno. High winds rapidly spread what was named the Caughlin Fire and thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes before the sun came up. About 30 homes were completely destroyed and a number of others received some degree of damage.
The Hawken Fire in west Reno started by careless human activity on July 16, 2007, was a close call. Numerous homes in the Caughlin Ranch subdivision were threatened as flames burned right up to fences in some places. Firefighters were able to defend the property, but 2,700 acres of forest went up in smoke.
On June 24, 2007, an illegal campfire got away and started the Angora Fire just south of Lake Tahoe. By the time the fire was contained days later, over 200 homes had burned, along with over 3,000 acres of forest.
In July of 2004, the Waterfall Fire took off near Carson City. Thirty-one homes and numerous other structures were destroyed. Almost 9,000 acres burned. Origin of this fire was traced to careless and illegal human activity.
Elsewhere around Nevada, wildfires of both human and natural origin regularly destroy thousands of acres of forest, desert brush, wildlife habitat, and human built structures.