Resource Concepts, Inc.
Celebrating 31 Years 1978-2009
Engineering • Surveying • Resources & Environmental Services
Lee/South Fork Indian Reservation is a mixed ownership community of tribal trust land and private land located in western Elko County between State Routes 228 and 227 along the south fork of the Humboldt River. The community hazard assessment resulted in classifying Lee/SFIR in the High Hazard category (61 points). A summary of the factors that contributed to the hazard rating is included in Tables 13-3. The high rating is primarily attributed to limited access and inadequate defensible space. The community boundary identified for this report is shown in Figure 13-1.
The wildland-urban interface area around Lee/SFIR is an intermix condition. Structures are scattered throughout the community with no clear line of demarcation between structures and wildland fuels. A total of 53 homes were assessed for this report. Twenty of the homes are on parcels between one and ten acres in size; the remainder are on lots of one acre or less.
In Lee/SFIR, all but four of the homes observed in the interface area are built with non-combustible or highly fire resistant siding materials such as medium density fiberboard. All of the homes have fire resistant roofing materials such as composition roofing, metal, or tile. Three of the homes have unenclosed porches, decks, or balconies that create drafts and provide areas where sparks and embers can be trapped, smolder, ignite, and rapidly spread fire to the house.
In Lee/SFIR half of the homes observed in the interface do not meet the minimum recommended defensible space requirement to help protect the home from damage or loss during a wildfire.
Lee/SFIR does not have an organized fire department. The closest fire suppression resources to Lee/SFIR are located in Jiggs, Ten Mile, Spring Creek, and Elko. Table 13-1 lists the types of local wildfire resources, cooperating partners, and equipment available for initial response to Lee/SFIR area in the event of a reported wildfire. Additional resources are available from local, state, and federal agencies through mutual aid agreements as described in Section 4.1.1.
|Type of Equipment||Amount of Equipment||Cooperating Partner
|Type 3 Engine
Type 6 Engine
|Type 2 Engine||1||Spring Creek VFD
|Type 4 Engine||1||Ten Mile VFD
|Type 4 Engine||1||Bureau of Land Management
|Source: Sam Hicks, Nevada Division of Forestry Elko County Prevention Captain; Lorayne London, SFIR Environmental Coordinator.|
Water available for fire suppression resources for Lee/SFIR is limited to a community well and the Humboldt River. There are three hydrants in the Te-Moak housing development, which are fed from a 65,000-gallon municipal water tank.
Fuels in the southeastern portion of Lee/SFIR community consist of shrubs, four to eight feet tall, including sagebrush, bitterbrush, and rabbitbrush. Basin wildrye, crested wheatgrass, and cheatgrass compose the understory at a height of two to four feet tall. Fuel loading is estimated at five to six tons per acre. The shrubs are densely spaced in the interface area which was determined to be a high to extreme fuel hazard. At the north end of the community juniper trees from ten to twenty feet tall with five to fifty foot spacing dominate the vegetation and are considered an extreme fuel hazard. Fuel loading in this area was estimated at eight to ten tons per acre. Along the west side of the community there is sagebrush from two to three feet tall with moderate density. Irrigated native hayland, a low fuel hazard, is located throughout the center of the community along the South Fork of the Humboldt River, Pearl Creek, and Rattlesnake Creek. Generally, the terrain in Lee/SFIR is generally flat to gently rolling slopes. The prevailing wind is from the south and southwest. Lightning and strong winds in the summer are common. Fuel hazard mapping in the community and wildland-urban interface is shown in Figure 13-2. Fuel hazard photo points are shown in Figure 13-3.
The worst-case scenario for a wildfire in the area surrounding Lee/SFIR would start with an ignition fire in the sagebrush fuels. If the fire started near structures, the strong winds, greater than twenty miles per hour could quickly drive the fire toward the structures before resources could arrive.
Lee/SFIR has a moderate ignition risk based on wildfire history and areas with moderate to extreme fuel hazards. The primary risk of ignition in Lee/SFIR is lightning, although human caused ignitions are unpredictable and can occur at any time.
The responsibility to keep a community fire safe falls not only on the local fire protection district but also on the residents and local governments. The recommendations for the Lee/SFIR area focus primarily on the ongoing and additional efforts to create and maintain defensible space and on the community coordination and public education efforts that could be undertaken to enhance fire safety.
Defensible space treatments are an essential first line of defense for residential structures. The goal of the treatments is to significantly reduce or remove flammable vegetation within a prescribed distance from structures. (Refer to Appendix E for the minimum recommended defensible space area). Defensible space reduces the fire intensity and improves firefighter and homeowner chances for successfully defending a structure against oncoming wildfire.
Fuel reduction treatments are applied on a larger scale than defensible space treatments. Permanently changing the fuel characteristics over large blocks of land to one of a lower volume and one of altered distribution reduces the risk of a catastrophic wildfire in the treated area. Reducing vegetation along roadways and driveways could reduce the likelihood of blocking access and escape routes, help contain the fire perimeter, and improve firefighter access and safety for protecting homes.
Nevada Fire Safe Council
210 South Roop Street Suite 101
Carson City, NV 89701
|Involved Party||Recommended Treatment||Recommendation Description|
|Residents and Property
|Defensible Space||Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes according to the guidelines in Appendix E.
Maintain the defensible space condition annually.
|Community Coordination||Ensure addresses are easily visible from the road.|
|Utility Company||Fuels Reduction||Reduce and remove vegetation to maintain clearance around power lines. Clear vegetation within fifteen feet of utility poles near the community.|
|South Fork Indian Reservation||Fuels Reduction||Mow or otherwise remove all vegetation within ten feet of the three fire hydrants to improve visibility and access for fire personnel.
Reduce vegetation and maintain roads by mowing all vegetation to a height of no more than four inches for a distance of twenty feet from the edge of both sides of the road. Treatment is especially needed along dead-end community roads to provide additional turn-around space for fire suppression apparatus.
|Community Coordination||Improve street sign and address visibility.
Form a local community-based organization to provide leadership and be responsible for community-wide fuels reduction and community fire safety.
Develop an evacuation plan that identifies routes of travel, shelter in place areas, and individuals with needs for special assistance such as non-ambulatory residents.
Develop and enforce brush clearance and biomass disposal programs.
Lee/South Fork Indian Reservation Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary
Lee/South Fork Indian Reservation Fire History
Lee/South Fork Indian Reservation Classification of Fuel Hazard
Photo Point 1. 4489498N, 0620885E, 000°N. Fuels in Lee/SFIR consist of basin wildrye, wheatgrass, bluegrass, needlegrasses, and cheatgrass, and are two to four feet high with dense spacing. The shrub layer consists of sagebrush, bitterbrush, rabbitbrush, bitterbrush, and desert peach, and are four to eight feet high with dense spacing. These areas represent high to extreme fuel hazards.
Photo Point 2. 4494635N, 0614189E, 320°NW. The fuel hazard at the north end of the community increases with the additional fuel loading from pinyon and juniper trees.