Summit to help homeowners, firefighters

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The wildfires that recently burned thousands of acres throughout Northern Nevada shows that much of the state is a fire-prone environment capable of supporting intense and uncontrollable blazes.

According to University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Natural Resource Specialist Ed Smith, these fire-prone areas contain scores of homes and communities that aren’t prepared to survive wildfire. Smith said more than 170 communities in Nevada are rated as having extreme, high or moderate wildfire hazard, and 13,400 homes are situated in extreme and high wildfire hazard areas.

The inherent dangers of having so many homes located in such dangerous terrain prompted University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Living With Fire program to sponsor the first Nevada Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Summit six years ago. The annual summit brings together members of Nevada’s high fire-hazard neighborhoods with the firefighting agencies responsible for protecting them to discuss how to lower the wildfire threat.

The summit, which will be held Oct. 1-2 at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, gives homeowners and firefighters a chance to compare notes, plan strategy and discuss in detail what they need to do to protect their neighborhoods from fire.

Research indicates that activities such as creating defensible space, removing pine needles from rain gutters, replacing wood shake roofs and screening vents can significantly improve house survivability during a wildfire.

The summit is free, but participants do need to register by going to www.LivingWithFire.info.

City of Reno Fire Marshal Joan Presley will serve as this year’s summit host with Fire Chief Jim Linardos presenting the keynote address. Linardos spent his career dealing with Nevada wildland-urban interface fire issues before accepting his current position as fire chief for Lake Travis Fire Rescue in Travis County, Texas.

A highlight of this year’s program will be a review of the Caughlin Fire from the eyewitness accounts of homeowners and firefighters. This discussion will be led by North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Fire Chief and Caughlin Fire Incident Commander Mike Brown.

There are some limited travel assistance funds available to community members or volunteer fire departments that have to travel more than 50 miles one-way to attend the summit. Contact Sonya Sistare at 775-336-0271 or go to www.LivingWithFire.info for more information.

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