Crews Clear Area Brush Ahead of Fire Season - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Crews Clear Area Brush Ahead of Fire Season

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Some agencies planned on burning wood piles today, but wind conditions weren't right. Some forests are covered with snow this time of the year but the dry year we've had is allowing crews to come in and clear out fuels.

It's not unusual to see pile burning and prescribed burns in the forests around Lake Tahoe. Officials say it's one of the best ways to keep wildfires out of the forest. "Fuels reduction work is something that we need to continue. It's something that's just like your lawn at home. If you don't cut your grass and maintain that lawn trimming and cutting, it's going to grow back," says Chief Michael Brown, North Lake Tahoe Protection Fire District.

Crews are clearing areas of Incline Village; a hillside that used to be covered with fuels is now nearly bare. "Before you couldn't even see that there was a house up there or the top of the ridge on top of the flats. It was so thick with brush and timber."

Crews were able to clear one area by using a wood chipper. "They run it through a chipper where in turn, the chips get out, they get thrown into the back of a dump truck for our organization. And then the chips will be utilized some place else," says Brown.

Just last month, a fire quickly burned a half-acre, in Incline Village.

Crews are fighting fires that aren't typical during the winter months because of the drought.

And while the lack of snow makes fuel reduction possible the dry weather will likely have a negative affect once the summer months arrive. "It brings a weaker forest. And what I mean by that is a lot of our trees are normally strengthened through the moisture that we receive. During the winter months, they start to become weak to where they're susceptible to beetle kill."

The trees dry out and become more volatile during fire events.

And with a year-round fire season officials are asking residents to maintain proper defensible space around their homes, even during the winter months. "It carries through those small litter fuels. The pine needles, the small short grasses and other material that can ignite and then get underneath your home, in the eves of your home, on your rooftops, and then we have bigger issues."

Fire departments are using the winter months for training and making sure they are ready for an emergency. They're also coordinating with other agencies knowing they will likely be working together when a large wildfire happens.

Written by Paul Nelson

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