Protecting Homes & Forests From Fire - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Protecting Homes & Forests From Fire

May is Wildfire Awareness Month, and fire officials are asking that everyone does their part to keep their surroundings safe. Especially coming off our third straight dry winter.   

Several fire agencies around here do their part to make sure these forests are as safe from wildfires as possible. And they ask that residents do the same around their homes.

Officials say one of the easiest things people can do to protect their homes is to create proper defensible space. "A lot of it is just general maintenance, removing needles from roofs, removing fuels that are right up next to the house," says April Shackelford, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District.
 
Sometimes that also means getting rid of ladder fuels like shrubs. "We come in here, we clean the ground litter out, as much as we can, start cutting back the bushes, the trees, the branches up to six feet."

Jim Eighme manages a 126 properties in one Incline Village neighborhood. Part of that job is reducing fire risk for the residents here. "They worry about the ground litter and the vegetation, the growth in the area, and everything else. So, we address that as much as we can," says the Tyrolian Village Maintenance Manager

He says those fears are even greater after three years of drought -- leaving the forests vulnerable to fire. "We don't get the snowpack and we don't get the rains to keep the stuff green and healthy. It's going to be a problem.""They're pretty stressed. You can see it just driving down the roads. Both from our brush to our timber, all pretty orange," says Isaac Powning of TMFPD.

Wildfires are already burning in Oklahoma and Southern California - a clear signal that fire season is here. "We've been planning on it. With the conditions that are our there, we've got to have all our boots ready to go."

Fuels reductions happen around Lake Tahoe throughout the year thinning out the forests that could go up in flames with just a simple spark. "Conditions are very dry out there. Fuels are still very overgrown. There's a lot of dangerous areas that surround the Tahoe basin," says Shackelford.

The U.S. Forest Service has a major forest thinning project set to start this month. Their plan is to reduce trees and brush on more than 3,200 acres on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. The project could take up to a decade to complete.

Written by Paul Nelson
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