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Orovada is located in north-central Humboldt County along US Highway 95, 44 miles north of Winnemucca. Assessment of 36 residences in Orovada resulted in classifying the community in the Low Hazard category (36 points). A summary of the factors that contribute to this hazard rating is included in Table 10-3. The low community hazard score is attributed to adequate defensible space, ignition-resistant or non-combustible construction materials, and good community design.
The wildland-urban interface condition in Orovada is intermixed. Structures are scattered throughout the wildland area with no clear line of demarcation between wildland fuels and residential structures in the community. Of the 36 homes observed during the assessment, thirty were on lot sizes between one and ten acres, and six residences were on parcels of greater than ten acres. The low density housing implies a lower community hazard because fire would be less likely to rapidly spread from one structure to another.
All of the homes in the interface were built with non-combustible or ignition resistant siding material such as medium density fiberboard (MDF), a fire-resistant material that can withstand prolonged periods of exposure to radiant heat.
All but one of the homes observed had fire resistant roofing such as composition shingles or metal. A small number 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.
All of the homes assessed had landscaping that meets the minimum requirements recommended for defensible space to help protect the home and minimize the potential for damage or loss during a wildfire. However there are outbuildings and other structures in the community, as well as equipment and hay storage areas, that do not have sufficient clearance of wildland vegetation.
The twenty-member Orovada Volunteer Fire Department. Table 10-1 lists wildfire suppression resources available for initial attack on a wildland fire call in Orovada.
|Type of Equipment||Amount of Equipment||Cooperating Partner
|Engine Type 3
Engine Type 4
Engine Type 1
|Source: Personal communication with Chief Dave Black, Orovada Volunteer Fire Department.|
Orovada VFD also has mutual aid agreements with the Winnemucca Rural Fire Department and the US Forest Service for initial attack on wildland fires in the Orovada Fire Protection District.
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.
Water availability for fire suppression in Orovada includes:
Ranch ponds could be used as water sources in the event of a wildfire. The water system operates on gravity and electrical pumps. There is no backup emergency generator to run the pumps in the event of a power failure during a wildfire.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office notifies the Orovada Volunteer Fire Department and the 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.
All Orovada VFD volunteers receive the BLM Wildland Firefighter training. The Orovada VFD does not utilize the Red Card system for individual qualifications. A Red Card certification is part of a fire qualifications management system used by many state and all federal wildland fire management agencies to indicate an individual’s qualifications to fight wildfires.
The Orovada Volunteer Fire Department responded to thirteen calls in 2003:
The Orovada VFD does not respond to emergency medical calls.
Funding for the Orovada Volunteer Fire Department comes through the Orovada Fire Protection District, authorized under NRS 474. Fire protection districts generally receive funding through ad valorem and other tax revenues.
Humboldt County has a Local Emergency Planning Committee that covers hazardous materials response and includes Orovada. There is also an emergency evacuation plan and a countywide all risk disaster plan. Orovada has a pre-attack plan for responding to fires within the Orovada Fire Protection District that is updated annually. The Orovada VFD reviews development plans for the community.
Orovada lies in a north-south oriented valley with mountains to the east and west. The terrain is generally flat. Predominant winds in the later afternoon are from the south-southwest. The fuel hazard in the Orovada interface area varies. Agricultural fields east of the community and previously burned areas west and south of the community currently represent a low fuel hazard with fuel densities estimated at less than one ton per acre. These areas, predominantly cheatgrass and annual mustard with some rabbitbrush, have the potential for more hazardous conditions in high precipitation years with good annual plant production. Unburned rangeland south of the community is composed of sagebrush, rabbitbrush, fourwing saltbush, and greasewood with a fine fuel component of cheatgrass and annual mustard and was considered a moderate fuel hazard.
The worst-case wildfire scenario for the community of Orovada would be a wind-driven wildfire, ignited by dry lightning in late summer. Erratic winds would be expected and would rapidly spread fire through cheatgrass fuels in all directions and threaten any nearby structure. Volunteer response could be limited during normal working hours, and the fire could exceed initial attack resources. However, good defensible space in the community and low fuel hazards around most of the interface lower the potential for a catastrophic event.
Orovada has a high potential for a wildfire ignition. There is an extensive history of lightning strikes and related wildfire activity in the area.
The Orovada risk and hazard reduction recommendations focus on improving defensible space around outbuildings, equipment storage areas, and haystacks, and improving fire suppression resources. Other recommendations pertain to community coordination efforts that would improve fire safety in Orovada.
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
|Responsible Party||Recommended Treatment||Recommendation Description|
|Property Owners||Defensible Space||Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes according to the defensible space guidelines in Appendix E.|
|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.
|Fuels Reduction||Continue roadside fuel reduction treatments by mowing vegetation to a height of 4 inches within 20 feet of each side of the roads.|
|Utility Companies||Fuels Reduction||Reduce and remove vegetation with 15 feet of poles and transformers.|
|Nevada Department of Transportation
Bureau of Land Management
|Fuels Reduction||Maintain 100 foot wide greenstrips on each side of Highway-95.|
|Bureau of Land Management||Fuels Reduction||Construct and maintain a 100 foot wide greenstrip on the south side of the community (see Figure 10-1).
Permit livestock grazing prior to seed maturity to reduce cheatgrass. Balance annual stocking rates with annual cheatgrass grass productivity.
|Training and Equipment||Assist Orovada VFD volunteers in obtaining and administration of red card certification for wildland firefighting.|
|Orovada VFD||Training and Equipment||Coordinate with the Nevada State Fire Marshal and ensure that all volunteers receive structure fire suppression training.
Coordinate with BLM to maintain ongoing wildland fire training.
Pursue grant funding and state federal excess property programs to replace outdated equipment
|Public 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.
Orovada Fire History, Suppression Resources, Critical Features, and Proposed Mitigation Projects
Orovada Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary