RCI ReportsDouglas County Fire Plan

18.0 Minden

18.1 Hazard and Risk Assessment

The town of Minden is located in northern Douglas County, adjacent to and north of the town of Gardnerville, Nevada. Minden is bordered to the north, east, and south by irrigated pasture and haylands. The East Fork of the Carson River borders the community to the west. A total of eight residences were evaluated along the wildland-urban interface in Minden during this assessment. The risk/hazard assessment resulted in classifying Minden in the Low Hazard category (33 points). The low community hazard score is attributed primarily to the presence of irrigated agricultural lands that 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 18-2. The specific findings for each of the wildland fire assessment parameters are reported below.

18.1.1 Community Design

The urban interface condition in Minden can be described as the classic interface. 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 Minden (see Figure 18-1).

  • Roads: The primary access roads through Minden are US Highway 395 and State Route 88; both are paved highways greater than 24 feet wide. Other primary access roads for residences on the west side of State Route 88 include Ironwood Drive, and County Road. Lucerne Street and Buckeye Road are the primary access roads on the east side of US Highway 395. Most of the primary and secondary roads in the town are between twenty and 24 feet wide, have road grades less than five percent, and allow adequate room for fire suppression equipment to maneuver.
  • Signage: Most streets in Minden have standard metal street signs that are highly visible and easy to read. Residential addresses are easily visible on all homes in the Minden interface. The clear and visible signage throughout the Minden area should assist fire suppression personnel in locating residences during poor visibility conditions that occur during a wildland fire.
  • Utilities: The utilities that serve Minden 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.

18.1.2 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. None 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.

18.1.3 Defensible Space

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

18.1.4 Suppression Capabilities

Wildfire Protection Resources

The Douglas County Engine Company Volunteer Fire Department (Station 1) and the career-staffed Minden Station 14 of the East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts provide wildfire and structure fire protection for Minden. 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 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, which supply the water storage tanks. The Carson River and ponds located around the community may be available for use as helicopter dip sites.

18.1.5 Factors Affecting Fire Behavior

Vegetation, dead and down fuels, and topographic features contribute to the potential fire hazard around wildland-urban interface communities. The topography is flat in the town of Minden, as it is situated on an old Carson River terrace. The entire interface area of Minden was described as homes adjacent to irrigated or abandoned pasture and hayland. The presence of these agricultural lands serve 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.

18.1.6 Fire Behavior Worst-case Scenario

The worst-case fire behavior scenario would likely begin from an escaped ditch burn in the late fall or early spring. A fire could threaten to destroy the wooden fences that separate the residential areas from the agricultural lands.

18.1.7 Ignition Risk Assessment

Minden 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, there is no significant wildfire history in the immediately adjacent area (see Figure 18-1).

18.2 Risk and Hazard Reduction Recommendations

The Minden 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 Minden.

18.2.1 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 depending on slope and vegetative fuel 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: 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 recommended in Appendix D.
  • Install spark-arresting screens on chimneys.
  • Annually remove vegetation and debris along irrigation ditches to reduce the fuel load.
  • 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.

18.2.2 Fire Suppression Capabilities

East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts Recommendation

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

18.3 Summary of Recommendations

Table 18-1. Minden 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.
East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts Fire Suppression Capability Remove fuels within ten feet of fire hydrants to improve visibility and access.

Table 18-2

Minden Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary

Figure 18-1

Minden Fire History, Suppression Resources, and Critical Features

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