Friday, August 11, 2006

Biggest Little Ashtray

There's a huge fire here. It started at 3:00 this afternoon in Verdi, just west of Reno, and at 8:30 the paper was reporting that it had already spread to 5,000 acres. I imagine it's bigger than that now. The air reeks of smoke -- even inside the house, with all the windows closed and the AC on -- and from our bedroom window, Gary and I can see the dull glow of fire on Peavine Mountain, just a few miles away. That's where he always hikes.

It's very windy, so they'll probably have trouble getting this one under control, although they already have a lot of people and equipment on it. We called some friends who live closer to Verdi than we do and asked if they wanted to come here: they were watching the fire from their front porch but said that no, they were okay.

We've never had to evacuate because of fire, but anyone who lives around here is aware of the possibility. There are places in town where you can't get home insurance without a fire-retardant roof. Most of the houses in our neighborhood, including ours, still have wood-shingle roofs. When we first moved here, we were two blocks from the start of wild land: now there are a hundred more houses up there, at least (and several new developments being built; they may be ashes in the morning). Gary always says that those houses would go before ours does. But even so, every summer he clears the cheatgrass from the backyard so our property will be less flammable.

In this wind, I worry about sparks on the roof.

If we did have to evacuate, we'd take the cats and my computer. And my meds and CPAP, I guess.

We'll probably be fine. But it's scary to watch the mountain burning.

Saturday morning:

The sky looks almost clear now, and the smoke has abated considerably, although we can still see smoke on Peavine. It's nothing like last night, though! As per Lee's request, here's a link to the Reno Gazette-Journal article about the story, complete with photo and video links. The story says that last night, the fire was 20% contained; I can't find a figure for this morning, but I suspect it's higher than that.


  1. Wow, Susan. That is nervous making. Having been 2 buildings over from an apartment complex fire I can understand your concerns about getting out safely.

    Are there any news stories that show images of this fire? If so could you add a link?

  2. Our recent dry spell saw a number of substantial fires on the (relatively) nearby North Yorkshire Moors. It happens every year and, truth to tell, they a relatively minor affairs that never threaten any habitations.

    However, at least some of them are started deliberately.

    Fire we can deal with, one way or the other. That sort of thoughtless malevolence is another matter altogether, and more worrying.

  3. Our fires tend to be a mix of natural causes (dry lightning, especially) and human accidents: people who drive their vehicles out into the hills or go shooting or are dumb enough to try to set a campfire. I haven't heard the cause of this latest fire. A few weeks ago we had an amazing display of dry lightning -- Gary and I sat in front of a window for two hours, watching the show as if it were fireworks or a movie -- and we expected the hills to be burning from that, but nothing happened. That was lucky!

  4. Anonymous6:48 AM

    I hope that the fires die out without any further spreading - that has to be scary and nerve-raking. On a purely pragmatic note, along with what you mentioned taking, don't forget the important paperwork like checkbooks, account numbers, ssn card/birth certificates, insurance coverage paperwork. Maybe put the really important docs in one of those small fireproof boxes (the ones that look like artists boxes). That way you can't put everything in it - just the really important papers. Stay safe.

  5. That's an excellent suggestion, anon. Thank you!

    The fire near us spread to 6,651 acres, but was declared completely contained yesterday. There was a smaller (83 acres) fire in another part of town; no people or buildings were hurt, but the paper said the cause was "under investigation."

    'Tis the season.


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