Local, state and federal officials outlined plans Monday to restore land blackened by a fast-moving wildland fire that destroyed 15 homes in Nevada's capital city and forced the evacuation of hundreds more.
Jack Troyer, regional forester for the intermountain region of the U.S. Forest Service, said a multi-agency effort will include seeding and tree-planting on the 7,600 acres scorched by the Waterfall fire.
Rehabilitation began Sunday with the construction of artificial terraces to slow runoff this fall. Planting will come later in what's expected to be a yearlong process.
"We pledge to work together and work hard," Troyer said at a news conference attended by Gov. Kenny Guinn, Carson City Mayor Ray Masayko and others.
Masayko said he's seeking $500,000 in local funds for the rehabilitation effort and added that additional funding from Congress "has to come pretty quickly."
A 75-25 funding plan will ensure that federal money covers three-quarters of the state's fire suppression costs, Guinn said. Combined state, federal and local firefighting costs total nearly $5 million and are increasing.
The value of homes and other property lost in the fire, which should be fully contained by Tuesday, hasn't been determined yet, but is expected to easily add several million dollars more to the overall costs.
Firefighters also defended their efforts to stop the blaze that erupted in Kings Canyon, just west of Carson City. They said trucks were on the scene within a few minutes and about 200 firefighters, aided by retardant-dumping planes and helicopters, were in the canyon within four or five hours.
Gary Schiff, Carson District ranger for the U.S. Forest Service, and other fire bosses said dead vegetation and five years of drought combined to create an extremely combustible environment.
At the height of the firefighting effort, more than 1,900 firefighters were on the lines. By Monday, most of the aircraft had been released and the number of firefighters was down to about 700. After burning the homes on the western edge of Carson City on Wednesday and Thursday, the fire gradually moved upslope into mountains west of town.
The fire was caused by an illegal campfire that could have been smoldering for several days above a small waterfall in Kings Canyon, Schiff said.
The fire began early Wednesday and quickly spread five miles along the Sierra foothill west of the state capital. Brisk winds sent the flames to within one-half mile of the governor's mansion.
People who were evacuated were allowed to return to their homes over the weekend.
On the Net:
National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/
Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center: http://www.sierrafront.net/
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