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Wild Horse Estates is located in northwest Elko County along State Route 225. The community is situated at the south end of Wild Horse Reservoir, at an elevation of approximately 6,200 feet. The results of the community hazard assessment classified Wild Horse Estates in the Moderate Hazard category (58 points). A summary of the factors that contribute to this hazard rating is provided in Table 35-3. Primary factors include inadequate defensible space, inadequate address signage, and an absence of local fire suppression resources. The community boundary identified for this report is shown in Figure 35-1.
The wildland-urban interface condition in Wild Horse Estates is intermixed: there is no clear separation between wildland fuels and developed parcels. Sixty-eight homes were assessed on parcels of between one and ten acres in size.
All of the homes observed in the interface area are built with non-combustible or highly fire resistant siding materials such as medium density fiberboard, and 99 percent of the homes have fire resistant roofing of composition materials, metal, or tile. Less than one-third 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.
Only 62 percent of the homes observed in the interface meet the minimum defensible space requirement recommended to help protect the home from damage or loss during a wildfire.
Wild Horse Estates has no local fire department or suppression resources. Previously the North Fork VFD responded to fires in Wild Horse Estates, but that volunteer fire department is now inactive. Table 35-1 lists the types of wildfire resources, cooperating partners, and equipment available for response to Wild Horse Estates in the event of a reported wildfire. Additional resources are available upon request 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 4 Engine||1||Bureau of Land Management
|Type 3 Helicopter
Air Attack Platform
|Bureau of Land Management
|Type 3 Engine
Type I Water Tender
|Nevada Division of Forestry
|Type 6 Engine||1||US Forest Service
|Source: Sam Hicks, Nevada Division of Forestry Elko County Prevention Captain; Joe Freeland, Bureau of Land Management Elko Fire Management Officer; Kevin Hall, Nevada Division of Forestry Northern Region FMO; Tom Turk, Nevada Division of Forestry Northern Region Battalion Chief; Melody Asher, US Forest Service Zone FMO.|
Water available for fire suppression resources for Wild Horse Estates includes the Wild Horse Reservoir and the Owyhee River that could be used as drafting sources or helicopter dip sites.
The vegetative fuel density in the Wild Horse Estates interface area is light, estimated at one ton per acre. The fuel hazard is low along the Owyhee River and Deep Creek corridors and moderate elsewhere. Fuels in the community consist primarily of sagebrush and rabbitbrush, with basin wildrye, halogeton, kochia, and cheatgrass. Cheatgrass growth is dependent on annual moisture and will produce increased fuel volumes and elevate fuel hazard conditions in years of higher than average precipitation. There are meadow grasses in riparian areas of the community near the reservoir. Russian thistle and annual mustards have invaded areas that have been disturbed. These species are highly flammable when dry. Russian thistle dries as tumbleweeds and tends to accumulate along fences and structures, increasing fuel loading and ignition hazards. The terrain within the community boundary is flat. The prevailing wind direction is from the south to southwest.
The worst-case scenario for a wildfire in the area surrounding Wild Horse would start from a dry lightning storm on a summer day in a year with normal to above normal precipitation and high annual grass and forb production. Multiple ignitions south and west of the community fueled by strong south/southwest winds would push fires into the community. Fire resources are more than thirty minutes away. Without a community water system, structures could be threatened before suppression resources could arrive.
Wild Horse Estates has a high risk of ignition based on fire history in the area and the potential for increased fuel loading from cheatgrass in high precipitation years. The primary risks of ignition in Wild Horse Estates are human carelessness and lightning strikes.
The responsibility to keep a community fire safe falls not only on the local fire protection district but also on the residents of the community and local governments. The recommendations for the Wild Horse Estates 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 an 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.
|Involved Party||Recommended Treatment||Recommendation Description|
|Defensible Space||Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes according to the guidelines in Appendix E.
Maintain the defensible space as needed.
|Community Coordination||Ensure residential addresses are easily visible from the road.
Work with North Fork to re-activate North Fork VFD. Contact Nevada Division of Forestry for information and assistance.
|Fire Suppression Resources||Coordinate with Elko County, the Nevada Division of Forestry, and residents in North Fork to reactivate the North Fork VFD, enhance recruitment of volunteers, establish training, and obtain personal protective equipment and fire suppression apparatus.|
|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.|
|Elko County||Fuels Reduction||Reduce vegetation along community roads by mowing all vegetation to a height of no more than four inches for a distance of twenty feet from the edge of the road on both sides of the road.|
Wild Horse Estates Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary
Wild Horse Estates Fire History