Defensible Space

Take a look outside commissioner Jim Galloway's balcony, and you can see scarring from the recent brush fires here in the Truckee Meadows.

"The speed of the fire that went along 4th Street was incredible. It went from one end to the other, in...and maybe time seems accelerated...half an hour and one end to the other and that was one where a gentleman on MayAnne was trying to do a good thing and mow weeds."

A house fire on Solari Drive earlier this year illustrates what commissioner Galloway is talking abut. A brush fire can gobble up property in a matter of moments. Dry brush on hillsides, and landscaping that when ignited can spark roof fires, all played a role. While pointing to the culprits is easy. Compliance restrictions, citations and who will pay for clearing and new landscaping are more problematic. But all will be analyzed Tuesday night.

One possibility, having local realtors require defensible space as part of assessment and disclosure for sale of property. Dennis Wilson President of the Reno Sparks Association of Realtors says his colleagues are willing to help, but this requirement may be out of their league.

"As far as realtors go, we are not experts at that. We need to leave that to the county fire department, city fire department, the fire safety council. Those that are trying to educate people as to what defensible space is."

Wilson says his association has already placed wild fires and defensible space on an environmental contact list given to home buyers and sellers. And the association has given names and contacts to fire and county officials of names of members to get the word out even more.

While its a good start, it may be a drop in the bucket. About six percent of houses are sold annually here in the county. It would take 16-plus years to completely cycle the message through.