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Extra precautions taken during Red Flag Warnings

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 5:47 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A call to Station 21 on Mill Street near the GSR in Reno was for a medical emergency. But it could just have easily been a call for a brush fire--especially when the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning.

“We are proactive,” says Reno Fire Chief Dave Cochran. “So, when we see a Red Flag Warning it is coming, it is predicted, we will upstaff, meaning we will add additional staff today. They’ll staff accordingly with personnel already in place,” he says.

Chief Cochran says such a warning doesn’t mean there is a greater chance fires will start. The threat is always around us.

The warning means there’s a greater chance the fire will spread.

“I’m not sure about the Caughlin Ranch Fire, but for sure the Washoe Fire both occurred during a Red Flag Warning,” says Chief Cochran. We saw what happened there, nearly 30 homes burned,” he says.

Chief Cochran says creating a defensible space is always recommended, but not on Red Flag Day. Mowing in unfamiliar areas where a spark can start a fire should be avoided. On a Red Flag day, put lawn equipment away if there is a chance of a spark landing in dry brush.

Where else can this occur? How about throwing a lit cigarette out the window? Hauling a boat or trailer? Make sure your chains don’t drag on the pavement. Several brush fires in our area have started this way.

Other fires have been started by target shooters whose ricocheted bullet sparks and lands in dry brush.

And driving over dry brush can start a fire as hot catalytic converters brush over dry vegetation.

Chief Cochran says on Red Flag Warning days, or really anytime this summer, it’s best to take water and a shovel.

There’s a better chance of putting out the fire with those tools, because chances are, the fire is only going to get bigger without them.

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