RCI ReportsDouglas County Fire Plan

11.0 Gardnerville

11.1 Hazard and Risk Assessment

The town of Gardnerville is located in northern Douglas County, adjacent to and south of the town of Minden, Nevada. Gardnerville is bordered to the east, west, and south by irrigated pasture and haylands. A total of 64 residences were evaluated along the wildland-urban interface in Gardnerville during this assessment. The risk/hazard assessment resulted in classifying Gardnerville in the Low Hazard category (26 points). The low community hazard score is attributed primarily to the presence of irrigated agricultural lands, which serve as a greenstrip around much of the interface area in the community. A summary of the factors that determine this hazard rating is included in Table 11-2. The specific findings for each of the wildland fire assessment parameters are reported below.

11.1.1 Community Design

The urban interface condition in Gardnerville is characterized as the classic interface condition. In many areas subdivisions border wildland fuels with a clear line of demarcation between the fuels and the residences. Lot sizes are primarily less than one acre throughout Gardnerville (see Figure 11-1).

  • Roads: The primary access route through Gardnerville is US Highway 395, which is a paved highway greater than 24 feet wide. Other primary access roads for residences on the southwest side of the highway include Centerville Lane and Waterloo Lane. Primary access roads for residences east of Highway 395 include Toler Lane, Lampe Lane, Gilman Avenue, and Virginia Ranch Road. Most of the primary roads are between twenty and 24 feet wide and allow adequate room for fire suppression equipment to maneuver.
  • Signage: Most streets in Gardnerville have standard metal street signs that are highly visible and easy to read. Residential addresses are easily visible on all homes in the Gardnerville interface. The clear and visible signage throughout the Gardnerville area should assist fire suppression personnel in locating residences during poor visibility conditions that occurs during a wildland fire.
  • Utilities: The utilities that serve Gardnerville are a combination of above ground and below ground power lines. In general utilities have adequately maintained right-of-ways and pose only a low ignition risk to the community.

11.1.2 Construction Materials

A majority of the homes observed in the interface area were built with fire resistant siding materials. A great majority of the homes had fire resistant roofing materials such as composition shingles, metal, or tile roofing. About half of the homes observed have unenclosed balconies, porches, decks, or other architectural features that create drafts and provide areas where sparks and firebrands can be trapped, smolder, ignite, and rapidly spread fire to the home.

11.1.3 Defensible Space

The majority of the homes had landscaping that would meet the defensible space requirement to protect the home from damage or minimize loss during a wildfire.

11.1.4 Suppression Capabilities

Wildfire Protection Resources

The Gardnerville Volunteer Fire Department (Station 2) of the East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts provides wildfire and structure fire protection for Gardnerville. In 2003, the Gardnerville VFD responded to more than 300 calls (East Fork Fire Protection District website). See Tables 4-2 and 4-3 for more information on the typical fire suppression response for first-alarm wildland-urban interface fires in Douglas County. Appendix E lists the type and number of fire suppression vehicles located at each EFFPD and Douglas County VFD station.

Water Sources and Infrastructure

Hydrants are available within 500 feet of residences throughout the towns of Minden and Gardnerville. The hydrant system is connected between the two towns and is tied into five water storage tanks for a total potential water supply of 4.5 million gallons. Emergency generators are available on the pumps that supply the water storage tanks. The Carson River and ponds located around the community may be available for use as helicopter dip sites.

11.1.5 Factors Affecting Fire Behavior

Vegetation, dead and down fuels, and topographic features contribute to the potential fire hazard around wildland-urban interface communities. Gardnerville is located on an old Carson River terrace. The topography is flat. The entire interface area of Gardnerville was described as homes adjacent to irrigated or abandoned pasture and hayland. The presence of these agricultural lands serves as a greenstrip between any native vegetation and homes. Due to the annual (or more frequent) harvest of the vegetation, and the irrigated, fire-resistant, qualities of the vegetation, these lands were rated as a low fuel hazard.

11.1.6 Fire Behavior Worst-case Scenario

The worst-case fire behavior scenario would likely occur on a high hazard summer day, in a year with normal to above normal precipitation and high grass and weed production in abandoned agricultural lands north of the Corley Ranch. An ignition near the intersection of Virginia Ranch Road and Mathias Parkway, fueled by strong south or southwest winds could spread through the abandoned pastureland east of the community and threaten homes.

11.1.7 Ignition Risk Assessment

Gardnerville has been rated with a low ignition risk. While there is a history of a few lightning-ignited fires in the agricultural lands within a mile of the community (see Figure 11-1), there is no significant wildfire history in the immediately adjacent area.

11.2 Risk and Hazard Reduction Recommendations

The Gardnerville risk and hazard reduction recommendations address the primary concern regarding protection of existing and future development in the wildland-urban interface area. Other recommendations pertain to community coordination and public education efforts that could be undertaken to enhance fire safety in Gardnerville.

11.2.1 Defensible Space Treatments

Defensible space treatments are an essential first line of defense for residential structures. Significantly reducing or removing vegetation within a prescribed distance from structures (a minimum of thirty feet, or more depending on slope and vegetation type) reduces fire intensity and improves firefighter and homeowner chances for successfully defending a structure against an oncoming wildfire.

Property Owner Recommendations

  • Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes according to the guidelines in Appendix D. This area should be kept:
    • Lean: There are only small amounts of flammable vegetation
    • Clean: Clean - There is no accumulation of dead vegetation or other flammable debris
    • Green: Existing plants are healthy and green during the fire season.
  • Remove debris and flammable materials from within the defensible space area.
  • Store firewood a minimum distance of thirty feet from structures.
  • Maintain areas under wood decks and porches free of weeds and other flammable debris. Enclose these areas wherever possible.
  • Remove shrubs within 25 feet and grass within ten feet of wood and vinyl fences throughout the community. Either maintain this area free of weeds and annual vegetation or plant fire resistant grass and wildflower species referenced in Appendix D.
  • Install spark-arresting screens on chimneys.
  • Annually remove vegetation and debris along irrigation ditches to reduce the fuel load.
  • Mow or remove brush growing against wood fences in the community.
  • Immediately dispose of cleared vegetation when implementing defensible space treatments. The material dries quickly and poses a fire hazard if left on site.
  • Maintain this defensible space as needed to keep the space lean, clean, and green.

11.2.2 Fire Suppression Capabilities

East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts Recommendation

  • Remove fuels within ten feet of fire hydrants to improve visibility and access.

11.3 Summary of Recommendations

Table 11-1. Gardnerville Priority Recommendations to Reduce Wildfire Risks and Hazards
Involved Party Recommended Treatment Recommendation Description
Property Owners Defensible Space Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes according to the defensible space guidelines in Appendix D.
Remove shrubs within 25 feet and annual grasses and weeds within ten feet of wood and vinyl fences throughout the community.
East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts Fire Suppression Capability Remove fuels within ten feet of fire hydrants to improve visibility and access.

Table 11-2

Gardnerville Wildfire Hazard Assessment Summary Sheet

Figure 11-1

Gardnerville Fire History, Suppression Resources, and Critical Features

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