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Engineering • Surveying • Resources & Environmental Services
Wabuska is a small community located at the north end of Mason Valley in central Lyon County. Wabuska is bordered to the north by the Desert Mountains, to the west by Perazzo Slough, and to the south and east by the Wabuska Drain (see Figure 15-1). Four residences were evaluated during the assessment. The risk/hazard assessment resulted in classifying Wabuska in the Moderate Hazard category (46 points). The moderate community hazard score is attributed primarily to distance from fire suppression resources and lack of defensible space around some homes. The community wildfire hazard score sheet is provided at the end of this section. The specific findings for each of the wildland fire assessment parameters are reported below.
The urban interface condition in Wabuska can be described as a rural community where residences lie along the main road and are surrounded by pasture land. Lot sizes are between one and ten acres.
Roads: The primary access route for Wabuska residences is US Highway 95. US Highway 95 is a paved, two-lane highway and is greater than 24 feet wide, allowing adequate room for fire suppression equipment to maneuver. Because there is only one road providing ingress/egress for the community, evacuation or fire suppression access could be restricted if Highway 95 were to become blocked.
Signage: No street signs or residential addresses were visible on any of the homes surveyed. However, the community is small in size and all homes are easily visible from Highway 95. There would be little chance of fire suppression personnel being unable to locate a particular structure that needed protection.
Utilities: The above ground utilities that serve Wabuska have adequately maintained right-of-ways and pose only a low ignition risk to the community.
Almost all structures observed in Wabuska were built with fire resistant siding materials. One residence had wood shingles, whereas the other three were constructed with fire resistant roofing materials. None of structures observed had unenclosed architectural features.
Two of the four of the residences observed had landscaping that would meet the defensible space requirement to protect the home from damage or minimize loss during a wildfire.
Wabuska does not have a volunteer fire department, and there is no fire station in the community. The Mason Valley Fire Protection District provides wildfire protection. Refer to Section 4.2 for more information on equipment and resources available from MVFPD.
Water availability for fire suppression in Wabuska includes:
The predominant vegetation around Wabuska consisted of black greasewood, four-wing saltbush, and Nevada dalea. Ground fuels included bottlebrush squirreltail, saltgrass, cheatgrass, and Russian thistle. This fuel type was classified as both light and moderate. Light density fuels were found north of Wabuska toward the fish hatchery. Shrubs in the light density class were primarily one to two feet tall and spaced five to 30 feet apart. The light density fuel load was estimated at one ton per acre and was considered a low fuel hazard.
Moderate density fuels around Wabuska were characterize by shrubs two to four feet tall spaced two to ten feet apart. The fuel load in the moderate density fuel type was estimated at two tons per acre and was considered a moderate fuel hazard.
Pastureland directly west of Wabuska was predominantly saltgrass and irrigated alfalfa. These fuel types do not pose a hazard to the residences in the community.
The general terrain around Wabuska is flat with slopes less than five percent. The aspect is generally south. The predominant wind directions are from the west and southwest.
The worst-case fire behavior scenario would likely occur on a high hazard day in the afternoon during the summer months on a year where above-normal precipitation has resulted in high production of cheatgrass. A fire ignition south or west of town could spread quickly if wind-driven. Because there is no fire department in Wabuska, fire suppression resources would be 15 to 20 minutes away in Yerington. With only half of the structures having adequate defensible space, a fire could threaten structures before fire suppression resources could respond. Flame lengths would likely be less than four feet in length and spread rates would likely approach 1,320 to 1,980 feet per hour.
Wabuska is viewed as having a low to moderate ignition risk.
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, businesses, and local governments. The recommendations for Wabuska focus primarily on additional efforts that can be taken by community members and public agencies to increase wildfire safety through reduction of hazardous fuels. Other recommendations pertain to community coordination and public education efforts that could be undertaken to enhance fire safety in Wabuska. The recommendations are detailed below and summarized in Table 15-1.
The density and type of fuel around a home affects the potential fire exposure levels to the home. The goals of defensible space are to reduce the chances of a wildfire spreading onto adjacent property and igniting homes, and to reduce the risk of property loss from wildfire. General guidelines for creating defensible space around residences and structures in the community are given below and are described in detail in Appendix E.
Public education focused on increasing community fire safety is critical. Informed community members can provide the leadership necessary to initiate efforts to effectively reduce the threat that wildland fires present to the entire interface community.
|Responsible Party||Recommended Treatment||Recommendation Description|
|Property Owners||Defensible Space Treatments||Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes according to the guidelines in Appendix E.
Maintain defensible space as needed to keep the space lean, clean, and green.
|Mason Valley Fire Protection District||Public Education||Distribute copies of the publication Living with Fire to all property owners.
Enforce or develop county laws and ordinances for defensible space and fuel reduction that include responsibilities for absentee owners and vacant lots.
Fire History for the Community of Wabuska
Wabuska Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary