A fire that began Sunday afternoon in Verdi was a reminder at how quickly a blaze can spark and spread in Northern Nevada.
The fire was ignited by four target shooters outside of the Verdi Shooting Range and gusty winds caused it to spread quickly and threaten homes in the Quillici Ranch area. Fire engine crews from Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, Reno and Sparks rushed to the scene and fought the blaze through Monday, where it had burned 125 acres at press time.
Back in May, a fire broke out at Golden Eagle Regional Park in Spanish Springs burning 4.5 acres and also caused by target shooting.
With the temperatures rising quickly and fueled up dry grasses, the Sparks Fire Department wants people to be aware of fire danger when recreating in the outdoors.
“Use common sense…we’re coming off of an unbelievable wet winter and the chief grass is drying out fast,” says Sparks Fire Chief Chris Maples. “We are approaching 100-degree days and summer afternoon winds can cause great potential for fire danger.”
Maples and his crew are concerned that the combination of heat, humidity, wind and annual greases growing out rapidly on all of the Northern Nevada hillsides can spark a fire that can get out of control quickly.
Since the recent Golden Eagle Park and Verdi fires were likely started by target shooters, Maples asks that people use the Washoe County Regional Shooting Facility (off of Pyramid Lake Highway) range instead.
“When you go to the shooting range, you eliminate the fire danger. But when you are out shooting in the hills, you are greatly increasing your chances,” says Maples.
As we approach the 4th of July holiday, the Sparks Fire Department would also like to remind people that fireworks are illegal in Sparks. Lighting off fireworks or starting an illegal burn can carry a fine from $100-$1000. If convicted, it is considered a misdemeanor.
“We want you to have fun, but all of us have to be extremely careful in recreating in the outdoors,” says Maples, whether that be from leaving an unattended BBQ or driving off-road vehicles around dry grass.
“As a department we are extremely concerned going into summer,” he adds. “All of us need to be proactive and think about our activities and their potential for starting a fire.”