Nevada Lucky on Wildfire Front So Far this Season

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Unlike its bigger neighbor to the West, Nevada has been lucky this wildfire season, with only 21,227 acres blackened so far.

By contrast, nearly 1.2 million acres, or more than 1,800 square miles, has burned during a record fire season this year in California.

And more than 900,000 acres, or 1,400 square miles, burned in Nevada last year.

While the wildfire threat remains high across Nevada, some experts are crediting brush- and tree-thinning projects with deterring several dangerous fires.

A swath of brush thinned last year in Washoe Valley south of Reno prevented a July 29 barn blaze from becoming a major wildfire, said Tim Roide, a fire fuels specialist with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The clearing of the 4-mile-long, 150-foot-wide section of sagebrush and bitterbrush helped prevent the fire from spreading onto BLM land. The $21,000 project was designed to protect homes in New Washoe City.

"There's no question about it, It prevented a sizable fire."

A fire that charred more than 475 acres in rural Lyon County last May burned into a treated area in Mill Canyon.

"That just really slowed down the spread of that fire," Roide said.

Similar work helped prevent last summer's fire that destroyed 254 homes on Lake Tahoe's south shore from becoming much worse, experts concluded.

After moving out of an overgrown Angora Creek drainage, the fire entered forested areas thinned by the U.S. Forest Service, according to a government report.

"A large area of homes, perhaps several hundred, did not burn because the treatments near the homes worked," said Terri Marceron, supervisor of the Forest Service's Tahoe unit.

"The Angora Fire showed us that what we have been doing works," Marceron said.

The threat of serious wildfire is expected to remain high in Nevada into the fall as drought conditions persist or intensify, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)