Temps Heightening Wildland Fire Threat

By: Jennifer Rogers
By: Jennifer Rogers

While many people are happy about the beautiful weather, others are concerned the late April snow and hot temperatures could equal a very destructive fire season.

Fire experts say temperatures like what we are experiencing are exactly what they're worried about. But all they can do now is wait prepare for what may be the worst fire season they've seen in a long time.

While Reno firefighters from station one are inside discussing gear, outside the brush still has some color.

But not for long.

In just a couple weeks it will be bone dry and very flammable. Meteorologists say these dry fuels mixed with this hot weather could be a deadly combination.

"Hot temps and afternoon winds combined with dry air mass is a dangerous situation," says Rhett Milne of the National Weather Service.

A situation the National Weather Service and local firefighters are teaming up to battle. Twice a day fire-forecasters send a report to update fire stations.

"Every morning we receive weather report, humidity, temps, fuels, and lighting indications," says Reno Fire Dept. captain Robert Griswold.

It seems lightning will be a word we hear often in the next few weeks.

"This year we expect more lighting. We expect a huge fire season from lightening strikes," Griswold says.

When it strikes meteorologists are ready. They plan on packing up their satellites and laptops and camping out with firefighters to keep all communication lines open, also to keep you and your home safe while they battle the blazes.

Don't forget to clear 30-feet of defensible space around your home.

Get rid of dry wood or brush and, hopefully by doing that, you can not only protect your home, but you can make firefighters jobs a little easier this summer.

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Taming a Wild Fire

  • Fueled by summer temperatures and dry conditions, millions of acres of America's forests burn each year. Wildland firefighters are faced with the difficult task of containing the sprawling blazes while withstanding intense heat, poor visibility and perils of the wilderness.

  • A combined effort of agencies within the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior includes thousands of full-time firefighters and volunteers, a fleet of engines, planes and helicopters and an array of technology ranging from infrared imaging to shovels.

  • There are many ways to fight a fire in the air. Specially trained firefighters, called smokejumpers, parachute into otherwise inaccessible areas of a fire during the initial stages of the attack.

  • When landing is not an options, "helitack" crews use equipment to lower slings and firefighters to the surface.

  • Large aircraft drop water or retardant in a long string to create a line. Pink dye allows the pilot to see where it lands.

  • Planes equipped with infrared mapping systems make flights before sunrise and after sunset to locate hot spots in a fire.

  • Helicopters make repeated drops, filling buckets at nearby lakes or water containers.

  • On the ground, highly trained firefighters are assigned the toughest parts of a fire. There are more than 60 hotshot crews nationwide, make up of nearly 1,400 firefighters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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