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Golconda is located in southeast Humboldt County between US Interstate 80 and the Humboldt River, at the south end of Eden Valley between the Osgood Mountains and the Sonoma Range. The Union Pacific Railroad passes through the northeastern portion of the community on two separate tracks. The results of observing 119 residences placed Golconda in the Moderate Hazard category (41 points). A summary of the hazard scores used to rank the community is included in Table 7-3. The community characteristics that influenced this rating were the lack of clear and visible address signs in a high-density residential area. Architectural features on homes that increase the potential for ignition were also noted, however there is a low potential for severe wildfire behavior in the interface area.
The Golconda community has a classic wildland-urban interface condition. The majority of homes were on lots of less than one acre with a clear line of demarcation between wildland fuels and the community development.
Nearly all of the structures in the community were built with non-combustible or ignition resistant siding materials. All the structures were built with fire resistant roofing materials. Thirty-one percent of the homes observed had an architectural feature such as an unenclosed balcony, porch, or deck that could create drafts and provide a space where firebrands and embers can accumulate, smolder and ignite, rapidly spread fire to the home.
Seventy-six percent of the structures had adequate defensible space to minimize the potential for damage to the home in the event of a wildfire.
The Golconda Volunteer Fire Department, Golconda Fire Protection District, provides fire protection to the community. At the time the interviews were conducted for this report, the Golconda Volunteer Fire Department consisted of 10 volunteers. Table 7-1 lists the wildfire suppression resources available for initial response to a wildland fire call in Golconda.
|Type of Equipment||Amount of Equipment||Cooperating Partner
|Type 6 Engine
Type 3 Engine
Type 1 Engine
|Source: Personal communication with Chief Roger Johnson, Golconda VFD|
Bureau of Land Management wildfire suppression resources are available to all Humboldt County communities through cooperative agreements with local fire departments. The equipment listed in Table 4-2 represents resources assigned to the BLM Winnemucca Field Office that are available for dispatch within ten to fifteen minutes of notification of a wildfire. The closest available resources at the time of the dispatch would respond.
The water system in Golconda consists of:
The hydrant system is powered by gravity and electric pumps. There is no backup system for powering the pumps in the event of a power outage.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office notifies the Golconda Volunteer Fire Department and the Central Nevada Interagency Dispatch Center of wildfires reported by 911 calls. The Central Nevada Interagency Dispatch Center dispatches both Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service resources in Humboldt County.
Volunteers with the Golconda VFD receive training to meet the State Fire Marshal’s Firefighter I and II and Entry Level Firefighter standards. Firefighters also receive BLM Wildland Firefighter training. The Golconda VFD utilizes the Red Card System. A Red Card certification is part of a fire qualifications management system used by state and all federal wildland fire management agencies that indicates an individual’s qualifications to fight wildfires.
In 2003 the Golconda VFD responded to:
Funding for the Golconda VFD is provided through the Golconda Fire Protection District, authorized under NRS 474. Fire protection districts receive funding through ad valorem and other tax revenues.
Humboldt County has a Local Emergency Planning Committee. Their emergency plan is updated annually, and Golconda is included in the plan. The County all-risk disaster response plan is updated annually.
Golconda is situated on flat terrain, with slopes less than eight percent. The fuel hazard in the interface area varied from low to moderate. On the west side of the community, near the railroad tracks, the fuel density is estimated at three tons per acre, composed primarily of big sagebrush and fourwing saltbush with cheatgrass and Russian thistle in the understory. Along the Humboldt River riparian corridor, the fuel load decreases to approximately one to two tons per acre. East of Golconda the fuels consist of sparse sagebrush, rabbitbrush, and fourwing saltbush, two to four feet in height. The fuel load in this area was estimated at less than one ton per acre.
The worst-case wildfire scenario for Golconda would be a dry lightning strike on a late summer afternoon near the railroad tracks in an area with heavy, brushy, fuels in a wet year with high volumes of dry cheatgrass. Winds from the north over twenty miles per hour would drive the fire directly into the community. The scenario would be worse if mutual aid resources were dispatched to a previous incident or because of limited volunteer response.
Golconda was determined to have a moderate ignition risk. There is an extensive wildfire history in the area. The primary ignition sources around Golconda are the railroad and lightning, although other 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 department, but also on the residents of the community, businesses, and local governments. The Golconda risk and hazard reduction recommendations focus on defensible space and fuel reduction and maintenance in the railroad corridor. Other recommendations pertain to community coordination and public education efforts that would enhance fire safety in Golconda.
Vegetation density, type of fuel, and slope gradient around a home affect the potential fire exposure levels to the home. The first goal of defensible space is to reduce the risk of property loss from wildfire by eliminating flammable vegetation near the home, thereby lowering the potential to burn. The second goal of defensible space is to provide firefighters a safer working area from which to defend the home or outbuildings during a wildland fire. Guidelines for improving defensible space around residences and structures are described in detail in Appendix E.
Abandoned structures present a fire hazard because they are often characterized by weathered wood with open or missing doors and windows. Typically vegetation has not been cleared around these structures. Sparks can fly into openings and ignite the structure and adjacent vegetation.
|Property Owners||Defensible Space||Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes according to the defensible space guidelines in Appendix E.|
|Community Coordination and Education||Assure that address signs are clearly visible from the road.
Board-up windows and doors of abandoned structures and skirt all trailers.
|Union Pacific Railroad||Fuels Reduction||Mow or remove vegetation with 15 feet of both sides of tracks (see Figure 7-1).|
|Bureau of Land Management||Fuels Reduction||Permit livestock grazing prior to seed maturity to reduce cheatgrass. Balance annual stocking rates with annual cheatgrass grass productivity.|
|Humboldt County||Defensible Space||Revise codes and ordinances to require and enforce defensible space treatments on all lots in the interface area.
Require provisions for fuel reduction treatment implementation and maintenance as a condition of new subdivision approval in the interface areas.
|Community Coordination and Education||Improve street signage visibility.|
|Golconda Volunteer Fire Department||Community Coordination and Education||Distribute copies of “Living With Fire” to property owners.
Contact the BLM Winnemucca Field Office and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension for assistance with public education.
Golconda Fire History, Suppression Resources, and Proposed Mitigation Projects
Golconda Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary