Virginia Highlands Prepares For The Worst

RENO, NV - No matter how it starts... by an arced power line, a burning cigarette... once it gets going, a fire in the Virginia Highlands has plenty of fuel to keep going--much like the nine fires currently burning in San Diego, the conditions are extreme.

Longtime resident Dave Abel says he's seen the pictures.

“Could be us, yeah, every year it's a thing you go through.”

Abel says if you've lived up here for any amount of time, you know the fire danger.

It is the second only to Lake Tahoe basin for its fire vulnerability.

For the first time, residents here along with emergency agencies county and state are organizing an evacuation drill Saturday morning.

It's a test to see if residents and emergency personnel can get out of this area with its windy narrow roads, and get out livestock in an efficient manner.

“We are trying to get across to the people the need to be aware of the circumstances in the highlands. And to be aware of what they need to do to accomplish an effective evacuation,” says Joe Curtis, Storey County Emergency Manager.

Homeowners I talked to are pretty confident they'll do well.

They expect many of the 400 residents up here to participate taking one of only two roads that will get them out of here.

Once they make their way to Virginia City, residents will be asked to meet at the middle school; it's the designated shelter.

In all, organizers say the exercise should take about two and a half hours, which means they'll be done at 11:30.

Storey County is basing its first fire evacuation drill on the exercises that go on in Washoe County every summer.