Evaluation of Waterfall Fire Damage Scheduled

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A report on damage caused a wildland fire that destroyed 15 homes in Nevada's capital city will be presented at an "open house" meeting Tuesday.

An emergency response team that reviewed the Waterfall fire, which burned more than 8,700 acres of land, will review its damage evaluation and also seek public comment on long-term rehabilitation of the burned area. The meeting will held at the local community center.

Besides the response team report, a federal team is scheduled to arrive here Wednesday to assess the damages and economic impacts of the fire that broke out July 14, and determine whether the state will qualify for a federal emergency declaration.

If the team, requested by Gov. Kenny Guinn, finds that the emergency status is warranted, the state will get a federal grant to help recover firefighting costs and to help fund land restoration costs.

"The fire caused significant destruction of private and commercial properties, roadways and drainage infrastructure," Guinn said, adding that steps must be taken to prevent more damage that could result from water runoff, debris flows or mud slides.

Also Monday, the U.S. Forest Service announced a tree-thinning and brush-removal project on about 2,100 acres on the west side of Washoe Lake, just north of the north boundary of the Waterfall fire.

"Our firefighters need to have the trees and brush thinned to give them a fighting chance to stop fires before they reach homes or take out entire hillsides," said Kelly Martin, Carson Ranger District fire management officer.

An open-house meeting on that project is scheduled Aug. 11 at Pleasant Valley Middle School.

Emergency crews already have begun work to reduce the danger of mudslides and floods in the area charred by the Waterfall fire.

Workers have used bulldozers to make 8-foot tall ridges of soil above the Quill Water Treatment Plant in Kings Canyon. Additional berms are being planned for Ash Canyon and a park west of Carson-Tahoe Hospital, and hundreds of sand bags are being stored at several locations.

Officials say the fire was caused by an illegal campfire that could have been smoldering for several days above a small waterfall in Kings Canyon.


On the Net:

National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/

Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center: http://www.sierrafront.net/