Officials: High Winds Main Cause of Little Valley Fire - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Officials: High Winds Main Cause of Little Valley Fire

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Little Valley Fire, October 2016 Little Valley Fire, October 2016

On Wednesday, February 15, the Nevada Department of Conservation & Natural Resources released the final report on the 2016 Little Valley Fire.

The independent review team had six different focus areas regarding the controlled burn that escaped its lines to turn into a wildfire, destroying 23 homes and 17 outbuildings. The NDCNR authorized the team to conduct the review with information related to: an evaluation of the prescribed fire plan, an evaluation of involved personnel's actions taken pursuant to the prescribed fire plan, a determination of the factors that led to the prescribed fire's escape and specific recommendations for the conduct of future prescribed fires. The team also added (with later authorization) a review of personnel training and qualification and a review of relevant State of Nevada laws and policy governing the planning and implementation of prescribed fire.  

The assessment by the Nevada Department of Conservation & Natural Resources says that the planning and implementation of the prescribed fire was carried out according to state policy, but that high winds and the reduction of staff leading up to the fire's escape were key factors in spreading the fire. To see the report, click here.

"I would like to thank the independent review team for its time and thorough report. Bringing in an outside professional perspective was an important step in understanding how this tragedy occurred,” said Governor Brian Sandoval in a statement Wednesday, “I will review the report with my team and we will discuss the findings with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Once again, I would like to express my heartfelt sorrow to the victims of this tragic event and my sincere gratitude to the first responders and firefighters who battled this intense and shocking event without injury or loss of life.”

Attorney David Houston says he is encouraged by the governor's statement and hopes it turns to action. He says he also appreciates the review teams candidness in the report. He represents many of the clients seeking compensation from the state. He says normally compensation is capped at $100,000 but that he is fighting for full compensation for each of his clients who lost everything.

"There's no way they're ever going to be wholly compensated for their memories and their the things that they cannot recapture, no matter how much money's paid," says Houston, "But to suggest that they shouldn't be able to rebuild their homes or repurchase certain items that's not fair."

Following is a statement from Bradley Crowell, Director of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources:

"Today, February 15, 2017, the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources received the report it had requested from an independent Escaped Prescribed Fire Review Team regarding the October 14, 2016, Little Valley Fire. The report, titled The Little Valley Escaped Prescribed Fire Review, is posted for public review on the Department’s homepage at www.dcnr.nv.gov. While unable to provide further comment due to pending litigation, we express our continued concern for the tragic impacts to the residents of west Washoe Valley, as well as our gratitude to all the firefighting agencies and emergency responders who worked to contain the fire. As the Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF) moves forward in fulfilling its critical mission of providing statewide wildfire protection services, I have asked the State Forester/Firewarden to conduct a comprehensive review of NDF policies and procedures, and to provide me with a plan for updating and improving the NDF prescribed fire program. Meanwhile, the current NDF prescribed fire moratorium will remain in place until further notice.”

To see an earlier story on the Little Valley Fire being caused by prescribed burns, click here

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