Resource Concepts, Inc.
Celebrating 31 Years 1978-2009
Engineering • Surveying • Resources & Environmental Services
Clear Creek is located in the southwestern portion of Carson City, three miles west of US Highway 395, and south of US Highway 50 on Clear Creek Road. The Clear Creek community is situated in a canyon on a south- facing slope in the Carson Range. There are about 23 full-time residences in the Clear Creek area. The risk/hazard assessment resulted in classifying Clear Creek in the High Hazard category (77 points). A summary of the values that affect this hazard rating is included in Table 7-2. The primary wildfire hazards for Clear Creek were limited road access into and out of the community, lack of defensible space around many structures, and the potential severe fire behavior due to topography and fuel loading.
The Clear Creek community was characterized by intermix wildland-urban interface conditions. Structures are scattered throughout the wildland area with no clear line of demarcation between wildland fuels and the buildings in the community. In Clear Creek, most homes are situated on lots between five and ten acres in size. These scattered structures are widely spaced and interspersed with wildland fuels. The Clear Creek Youth Center is located at the west end of the community.
All of the structures in the community were built with heat or flame resistant siding materials. Almost all of the structures had fire resistant roofing materials such as composition roofing, metal, or tile. Five of the homes observed had architectural features such as an unenclosed balcony, porch, or deck that create drafty areas where embers and firebrands can be trapped, smolder, and ignite, rapidly spreading fire to the home.
Approximately fifty percent of the structures in the Clear Creek Community had adequate defensible space of 100 feet or greater in areas surrounded by shrubs, and 30 feet in areas without brushy fuels.
The Carson City Fire Department and the NDF Sierra Forest Fire Protection District provide wildland and structure fire protection to the Clear Creek Community. See Tables 4-2 and 4-3 for additional information on fire protection resources available for initial attack of wildland fires near Carson City communities.
Water availability for fire suppression in the Clear Creek community includes a limited drafting source from Clear Creek, one pond, and two residences with water storage facilities. Two underground water tanks support the hydrant system at the Clear Creek Youth Facility. Fire suppression water tenders can refill at a source near the intersection of U.S. Highway 395 and Old Clear Creek Road in the event of a wildfire (ten to twenty minute round trip. (Dynamac, 2003).
Clear Creek is included in the Carson City emergency and disaster plans. The residents of the community have formed a chapter of the Nevada Fire Safe Council. There is currently no evacuation plan for residents of the community, nor do the emergency and disaster plans provide information on safe zones within the community. Development plans for the community are reviewed by the Carson City Fire Department.
Vegetation, down fuels, and topography contribute to the potential fire hazard around wildland-urban interface communities. Fuel hazards were mapped for Clear Creek as shown in Figure 7-2. Fuel hazard photo points were established to document current fuel hazard conditions around the community and are provided in Figure 7-3.
Clear Creek is situated in an east-west directional canyon with most of the homes located on the south-facing slope, surrounded on three sides by mountains. The prevailing winds are from the west-southwest. Slopes vary from five to greater than forty percent. The fuel density is heavy in the area surrounding structures, estimated at five tons per acre. Fuels consisted primarily of Jeffrey pine with manzanita, big sagebrush, bitterbrush, and snowbrush in the brush layer. Perennial grass, cheatgrass, squaw carpet, and pine needle duff comprise the ground fuels in the area. The brush density varied from moderate to heavy and was rated as an extreme fuel hazard.
In 2003, the Nevada Fire Safe Council funded a wildfire risk/hazard assessment and hazard mitigation plan for the Clear Creek community. Dynamac, Inc. of Oregon conducted the risk/hazard assessment and proposed defensible space and fuel reduction treatments for the area that are summarized below and shown on Figure 7-4. Projects 2 and 3 have been completed, and Project 1 is scheduled to be completed in 2005. The Clear Creek chapter of the Nevada Fire Safe Council is also planning to complete a north-south fuelbreak in T15N, R19E, Section 34, in 2005 (Arnold pers.comm.).
A worst-case wildfire scenario for Clear Creek would likely occur in late afternoon on a high hazard day during a dry lightning storm with numerous ignitions along the Carson Range. Downslope and erratic winds would push a fire, or numerous fires, toward existing structures. The scenario would be worsened if mutual aid resources were delayed due to assignment to an emergency situation elsewhere. If a wildfire were to block Old Clear Creek Road, evacuation and fire suppression would be greatly jeopardized.
Clear Creek has a high ignition risk rating due in part to the large number of fire ignitions that have occurred in the last twenty years along the Eastern Sierra Front. Wildfire and ignitions have been recorded for the areas both north and southwest of Clear Creek (see Figure 3-2).
The Clear Creek risk and hazard reduction recommendations address the primary concern regarding protection of existing and future development in the wildland-urban interface area. Other recommendations pertain to community coordination and public education efforts that could be undertaken to enhance fire safety in Clear Creek.
Defensible space is an essential first line of defense for residential structures. Significantly reducing or removing vegetation within a prescribed distance from structures (a minimum of 30 feet to 200 feet depending upon slope and vegetative fuel type) reduces fire intensity and improves firefighter and homeowner chances for successfully defending a structure against oncoming wildfire. Improving address identification improves firefighters’ ability to locate structures during smoky conditions.
Fuel reduction treatments are applied on a larger scale than defensible space treatments. Fuel reduction treatments are most effective when implemented on large blocks of land to permanently change the fuel structure to create a condition of lower fuel volume and lower ignition potential.
There are several areas within Clear Creek where reducing vegetation along roads and driveways could reduce the likelihood of wildfire spreading across roads, and improving firefighter safety, and improving evacuation routes in the event of a wildfire. The areas of most concern are along Old Clear Creek Road and residential driveways greater than 200 feet in length.
Many of the most effective activities aimed at reducing the threat of wildfire for the Clear Creek community require that individual property owners coordinate with each other and with local fire authorities, as they have through the Clear Creek chapter of the Nevada Fire Safe Council. Public education and awareness, neighbors helping neighbors, and proactive individuals setting examples for others to follow are just some of the approaches that will be necessary to meet the fire safe goals in the community.
Proper maintenance, storage, and acquisition of fire suppression equipment, along with regular and appropriate firefighter training and development of water drafting sources increases the fire suppression capability for those areas where fire protection is available.
|Involved Party||Recommended Treatment||Recommendation Description|
|Property Owners||Defensible Space Treatments||Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes according to the guidelines in Appendix F.
Maintain defensible space as needed to keep the space lean, clean, and green.
|Fuel Reduction Treatments||Coordinate with the Carson City Fire Department and Nevada Division of Forestry to implement landscape-wide fuel reduction treatments in the Clear Creek community.
Reduce fuels a minimum of twenty feet along both sides of private driveways that are longer than 200 feet.
|Community Coordination and Public Education||Read and review community evacuation plan when it becomes available.
Improve address visibility.
|Carson City Fire Department
Sierra Forest Fire Protection District (NDF)
|Fuel Reduction Treatments||Participate in planning and implementation of landscape-scale fuel reduction treatments in the Clear Creek community.
Maintain fuel reduction treatments as necessary.
Participate in planning and implementation of landscape-scale fuel reduction treatments and proposed fuelbreaks in the Clear Creek community (Figures 7-1 and 7-4).
|Community Coordination||Develop a community evacuation plan with input from property owners. Distribute copies of the plan to all homeowners in the community and post along Old Clear Creek Road.|
|Install at least one community water storage facility (5,000 to 10,000 gallon) within the Clear Creek community.|
|Nevada Division of State Lands||Defensible Space Treatments||Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around the Clear Creek Youth Center according to the guidelines in Appendix F.
Maintain defensible space as needed to keep the space lean, clean, and green.
|Fuel Reduction Treatments||Participate in planning and implementation of landscape-scale fuel reduction treatments and proposed fuelbreaks in the Clear Creek community (Figures 7-1 and 7-4).|
|Suppression Capability||Install an above ground water storage facility (5,000 to 10,000 gallon) at the Youth Center.|
|Carson City Street Department||Fuel Reduction Treatments||Reduce vegetation and continue vegetation maintenance along road shoulders for a distance of fifty feet on both sides of Old Clear Creek Road.
Take care not to leave exposed bare areas that would be vulnerable to cheatgrass invasion.
|US Forest Service||Fuel Reduction Treatments||Participate in planning and implementation of landscape-scale fuel reduction treatments and proposed fuelbreaks in the Clear Creek community (Figures 7-1 and 7-4).|
|Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California||Fuel Reduction Treatments||Participate in planning and implementation of landscape-scale fuel reduction treatments in the Clear Creek community (Figure 7-1).|
Clear Creek Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary
Clear Creek Fire History and Proposed/Planned Mitigation Projects
Clear Creek Classification of Fuel Hazard
Photo Point 1. Clear Creek Fuel Hazard Photo Point. 4333111N, 257799E, 270°W. Fuels on the east side of the Clear Creek area, southwest of Carson City, consisted of high density sagebrush, bitterbrush, and rabbitbrush. The tree canopy consisted of moderate density Jeffrey pine stands in the uplands and willow and cottonwoods in the riparian areas. Fuel loads were estimated at eight tons per acre and considered a high fuel hazard.
Photo Point 2. Clear Creek Fuel Hazard Photo Point. 4333125N. 2569212E. 110°SE Typical vegetation in the Clear Creek area consisted of dense Jeffrey pine stands with an understory of four to six-foot high sagebrush. Fuel loads were estimated at fourteen tons per acre and considered an extreme fuel hazard.
Photo Point 3. Clear Creek Fuel Hazard Photo Point. 4333055N. 253932E. 90°E. Near the Youth Center in the Clear Creek area, fuels consisted of high density Jeffrey Pine and continuous canopy brush fields of four-foot tall manzanita, sagebrush, and bitterbrush. Both the brush and tree dominated areas were considered extreme fuel hazards.
Clear Creek Planned Fire Mitigation Projects