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The community of Paradise Ranchos, locally known as Paradise Hills, is located in east-central Humboldt County at the south end of Paradise Valley, east of US Highway 95 and west of the Little Humboldt River. The assessment of 153 residences resulted in classifying the Paradise Ranchos community in the Moderate Hazard category (47 points). A summary of the factors that contribute to the community hazard rating is included in Table 11-3. The moderate rating was affected by limited fire protection resources, areas within the community overgrown with heavy fuels, some areas with inadequate defensible space, and a limited number of visible addresses.
The wildland-urban interface condition in Paradise Ranchos is intermixed. Structures are scattered throughout the wildland area with no clear line of demarcation between wildland fuels and residences. Low-density housing, with parcel sizes ranging between one and ten acres implies a lower hazard to the community.
All but one of the 153 homes observed in the interface were built with non-combustible or ignition resistant siding material such as medium density fiberboard (MDF), a fire-resistant construction material that can withstand prolonged periods of exposure to radiant heat. All but one home had fire-resistant roofing such as a metal roof or composition shingles. Approximately 25 percent of the homes observed had an unenclosed balcony, porch, deck, or other architectural feature that can create drafty areas where firebrands and embers can accumulate, smolder and ignite, rapidly spreading fire to the home.
All but 26 of the homes assessed in the interface had adequate defensible space to help protect the home and minimize the potential for damage or loss during a wildfire.
Paradise Ranchos is protected by the Paradise Hills Volunteer Fire Department. At the time the interview was conducted for this report, the Paradise Hills VFD had fifteen members. Table 11-1 lists the Paradise Hills VFD suppression apparatus available for initial attack on a wildland fire in Paradise Ranchos Fire Protection District.
|Type of Equipment||Amount of Equipment||Cooperating Partner
|Engine Type 3
|Paradise Hills VFD|
|Source: Personal communication with Chief Rick Creedon, Paradise Hills Volunteer Fire Department.|
Additional resources are available for initial attack in the Paradise Hills Fire Protection District through mutual aid agreements with Golconda VFD, Winnemucca Rural Fire Department, and Paradise Valley 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 Humboldt-Toiyabe Ranger District also has a Type IV engine detailed at the guard station in Paradise Valley during the fire season.
Water availability for fire suppression in Paradise Ranchos includes:
The community water system operates on 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 Paradise Hills 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.
All Paradise Hills VFD volunteer firefighters are trained to meet the State of Nevada entry-level firefighter qualifications and receive the BLM Basic Wildland Firefighting training. The Paradise Hills VFD does not utilize the Red Card system for individual qualifications, although they are actively searching for a sponsor to be qualified for Red Card certification. 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 Paradise Ranchos Volunteer Fire Department responded to eight calls in 2003:
Funding for the Paradise Hills Volunteer Fire Department comes from the Paradise Valley 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, and Paradise Ranchos is included in the plan. The Paradise Ranchos VFD has a pre-attack plan that is updated annually. The Paradise Ranchos Volunteer Fire Department reviews development plans for the community. There is no brush clearance program currently in effect.
Paradise Ranchos lies in the central part of a north-south oriented valley. Late afternoon winds are predominantly from the south-southwest. Slopes in the area are generally less than eight percent with a south aspect. The fuel hazard in the Paradise Ranchos interface varies from low to moderate. The vegetative fuel load was estimated at three to four tons per acre throughout parts of the community and in the unburned areas north and west of the community. These sites are dominated by big sagebrush, rabbitbrush, greasewood, or fourwing saltbush with a fine fuel component of cheatgrass, annual mustards, and perennial grasses. The fuel load in shadscale dominated sites south and east of the community was estimated at less than one ton per acre and considered a low fuel hazard. Portions the community has small irrigated fields that provide buffer zones around some residential structures.
The area surrounding Paradise Ranchos has an extensive wildfire history, primarily from dry lightning strikes during summer thunderstorms. The worst-case scenario for the community would occur in a wet year with high annual production of cheatgrass. Under strong wind conditions, a lightning-caused ignition west of the community would rapidly drive a fire across Highway 95 into the shrub-dominated fuels throughout the community. The fire could exceed initial attack resources even if volunteer firefighters were able to respond immediately. The scenario would be worse if multiple fires were ignited during the same storm and mutual aid resources were dispatched to a previous incident.
Paradise Ranchos has a high potential for ignition in the interface areas based on extensive wildfire and ignition history. The primary ignition risk in Paradise Ranchos is lightning, although human caused ignitions are unpredictable and can occur at any time.
The Paradise Ranchos hazard reduction recommendations focus on defensible space, firefighter training, and fuel reduction treatments. Other recommendations pertain to community coordination efforts that would enhance fire safety in the Paradise Ranchos community.
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.
Many of the most effective activities aimed at reducing the threat of wildfire for the Paradise Ranchos community require that individual property owners coordinate with each other and with local fire authorities. 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.
|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.|
|Community Coordination and Public Education||Assure address sign visibility from the road.|
|Paradise Hills VFD||Training and Equipment||Coordinate with BLM to ensure that volunteers receive ongoing wildland fire training and red card certifications.|
|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.
|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.
|Nevada State Fire Marshal
Nevada Division of Forestry
|Training and Equipment||Provide firefighting training to Paradise Hills VFD to ensure that volunteers meet Firefighter I and II, and Basic Wildland Firefighter standards.|
|Bureau of Land Management||Training and Equipment||Coordinate with Paradise Ranchos VFD to ensure that volunteers obtain and correctly administer red card certifications.|
|Fuels Reduction||Permit livestock grazing prior to seed maturity to reduce cheatgrass. Balance annual stocking rates with annual cheatgrass grass productivity.|
|Nevada Department Of Transportation||Fuels Reduction||Maintain 100-foot fuelbreaks on each side of Highway-95.|
Paradise Ranchos (Paradise Hills) Fire History and Suppression Resources
Paradise Ranchos Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary