July 14, 2004

Real Fire, Part II

This fire is turning out to be a pretty bad one. At least it’s not the Lake Tahoe one I prophesied yesterday, but still bad. This one is on the Carson City side of the mountains, in the foothills right outside town. The wind is pushing it into neighborhoods on the western outskirts, and blanketing downtown with smoke.

The fire is up in the Kings Canyon area. The hills around there are heavy with pine trees and dry brush, as much a tinderbox as the Tahoe Basin is. The pine trees stop at the valley floor and give way to sagebrush, and town is about a mile away from that point. But there are quite a few houses built up there amongst the brush and trees, and the news is reporting that some of them have already been lost. The fire is pushing its way north, towards Lakeview, which is one of the ritzy neighborhoods in town. It’s completely surrounded by forest, and if the fire makes it that far there will be massive losses. On its way it will pass through the Timberline neighborhood, and a bunch more fancy homes.

I’m thinking that town itself is safe. These’s a lot of defensible space down here. Plus by the time it reaches us it’ll be a brush fire, and those can be stopped a lot easier than a forest fire can. Fire crews shouldn’t have a problem keeping it confined to the mountains. Getting a handle on it there, in that terrain, is another matter.

More from the Nevada Appeal, Reno Gazette Journal, KTVN TV, and KOLO TV. KOLO reporter John Tyson, who I believe is a volunteer firefighter himself, got a little too close to the front line. I’ve heard he lost his news van to the flames and was lucky to escape with minor burns.

I’m at my office right now, two miles from where the fire is burning. We’re enveloped in a cloud of smoke and ash. I would say I’ll keep updating as things change, but I’m leaving on vacation at sunrise tomorrow. So, I ask the same question I did yesterday: Will there be a town to come back to?

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