RCI ReportsMineral County Fire Plan

8.0 Mina

8.1 Risk and Hazard Assessment

Mina is located in the eastern portion of Mineral County on US Highway 95, approximately nine miles south of Luning. Mina is situated on the alluvial fan of the Garfield Hills on the edge of Soda Spring Valley. Mina has approximately 278 full time residents (Nevada State Demographer 2003). The assessment resulted in classifying Mina in the Moderate Hazard category (46 points). A summary of the values that contribute to this hazard rating is included in Table 8-3 at the end of this chapter. The primary risk factors for Mina were limited signage on residences and streets and vegetation or debris around some structures in the interface.

8.1.1 Community Design

Mina demonstrates the characteristics of an intermix wildland-urban interface condition. Structures are scattered throughout the wildland area with no clear line of demarcation between wildland fuels and the buildings and open space throughout the community. Approximately two thirds of the lot sizes are less than one acre; the remaining parcels are between one to ten acres in size. Accordingly, some structures are clustered very close together, while others are surrounded by a sizeable expanse of vacant land (See Figure 8-1).

  • Roads: US Highway 95 is the major transportation route through Mina. US Highway 95 is paved and is at least 24 feet in width.
    No dead-end roads limit the ability for fire suppression equipment to maneuver or turn around. All roads have a grade less than 5 percent.
  • Signage: Approximately one-third of the streets in Mina do not have easily visible street signs. Residential addresses were only visible on about half of the homes. Clear and visible residential addresses are important to aid fire fighting personnel in locating homes during low visibility conditions that may be present during a wildland fire.
  • Utilities: Utilities are all above ground. Power line corridors have been properly maintained to minimize wildfire damage to electric utilities and reduce the possibility that sparks created by electric utilities start a fire in adjacent vegetation.

8.1.2 Construction Materials

Approximately one-half of the homes in the interface are built with combustible siding materials. Many of these homes have siding made of medium-density fiberboard that will burn when exposed to high temperatures for a prolonged period of time. The minimal fuel load adjacent to most of these homes reduces the hazard of siding combustion.

All of the homes have fire resistant roof materials such as composition roofing or metal. Approximately one quarter of the homes observed had unenclosed balconies, porches, decks or other architecture features that could create drafts and provide areas where sparks and embers can smolder and rapidly spread fire to the home.

8.1.3 Defensible Space

Approximately one-half of the homes have landscaping that would meet the minimum defensible space requirement to help protect the home from damage or loss during a wildfire.

See the Defensible Space Guidelines and the Homeowner’s Annual Checklist in Appendix D for detailed information on defensible space.

8.1.4 Suppression Capabilities

Wildfire Protection Resources

Mina is protected by a seven member volunteer fire department. Mineral County Fire Department out of Hawthorne also responds to all fire calls. Additional resources are available from DZHC Fire and Emergency Services, the contract fire department at the Hawthorne Army Depot, and the Bureau of Land Management and the Nevada Division of Forestry through the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center in Minden, Nevada. Table 8-1 lists the types of wildfire resources, cooperating partners and equipment available to Mina to respond to a reported wildland fire.

Table 8-1. Mina Wildfire Suppression Resources
Response Time Type of Resources Amount Cooperating Partner
(Resource Location)
10 - 30 minutes Engine
Rescue/Brush Truck
Water Tender (3,000 gal.)
Water Tender (5,000 gal.)
Mina Fire Station (Mina)
Mineral County FD (Hawthorne)
1 - 2 hours Brush Truck
Water Tender
DZHC Fire & Emergency Services
(Hawthorne Army Depot)
2+ hours Engine
Air Tanker
Hand Crew
BLM and NDF (Closest available resources dispatched from the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center, Minden)
Source: Personal communication with Chief Craig Nixon, Mineral County Fire Department.

Water Sources and Infrastructure

Water availability for fire suppression in Mina includes:

  • Community wells
  • 1,066 gpm hydrants within 500 feet of structures
  • A water storage tank

A water system is gravity fed. There is no backup emergency generator to run the community well pumps.

The existing water delivery system meets National Fire Protection Codes and Standards for fire protection.

Detection and Communication

Fires are reported in the Mina area through:

  • 911

Fires are communicated to fire response personnel through the use of:

  • Fire Dispatch through the Mineral County Fire Department at the Hawthorne Fire Station
  • Radios using the following frequencies: primary-154.415; secondary-153.770
  • Pagers
  • Community siren

Mina relies on the County Fire Department for radio dispatch.

Fire Protection Personnel Qualifications

All volunteer firefighters are trained to the State of Nevada entry-level firefighter qualifications. Wildland firefighter training is scheduled for July of 2004. The Mina 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 that indicates an individual is qualified to fire wildland fires.

Work Load

The Mina Volunteer Fire Department responded to 33 calls in 2003:

  • Emergency Medical Calls: 30
  • Wildland / Brush fire calls: 1
  • Other calls: 2

Financial Support

Financial support for the Mina Volunteer Fire Department comes from the Mineral County General Fund. Mineral County is currently at the property tax cap set by Statute and has no ability to raise additional taxes. Increases in local funding for fire suppression can only occur if there are increases in revenues or reductions in other county services.

Community Preparedness

Mina is included in the Mineral County emergency plan, disaster plan, and emergency evacuation plan. The emergency evacuation plan can only be activated by the Mineral County Fire Chief or Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. Development plans for the community are reviewed by the Mineral County Fire Department.

8.1.5 Factors Affecting Fire Behavior

The vegetation fuel density in the Mina interface area is light, estimated at one-half ton per acre. Fuels in the community consist primarily of black greasewood, Bailey’s greasewood, shadscale, bud sage, rabbitbrush, and cheatgrass. The terrain is fairly flat (eight percent or less slope). The fire behavior potential in Mina is considered low due to the sparse vegetation and flat terrain. There is no significant wildfire history in the area adjacent to Mina although there is a history of lightning strikes in the area. The predominant wind is from the south/southwest in the late afternoon

8.1.6 Fire Behavior Worst Case Scenario

The worst-case scenario for Mina would likely be a wind-driven wildland fire threatening the south side of town in the mid-afternoon on a high hazard day. Because of the low, sparse brush, the threat of a rapidly spreading fire entering from the surrounding wildland area is low. However, an ignition within the community could spread because of general debris and weeds around the existing structures. The scenario would be made worse if mutual aid resources were unavailable due to fire activity in other areas or through limited local volunteer response. Due to the remote location, the community must rely primarily on their own limited firefighting resources for first response.

8.1.7 Ignition Risk Assessment

Mina has been rated with a low ignition risk. While there is an ignition history reported for the area (Figure 3-2), there is no significant wildfire history in the area, likely due to the sparse, low brush in and around the community.

Ignition risks fall into two categories - lightning and human caused. Human caused ignitions can come from a variety of sources: fires started along highways and county roads from burning material thrown out of vehicle windows or ignited during auto accidents; off-road vehicles; railroads; arcing power lines; agricultural fires; ditch burning; debris burning in piles or burn barrels; matches, and fireworks are a few examples of ignition sources for human caused wildfires.

8.2 Risk and Hazard Reduction Recommendations, Roles, and Responsibilities

The Mina Risk Reduction Recommendations focus on defensible space and homeowner responsibilities. Other recommendations pertain to community coordination efforts that could be undertaken to enhance fire safety in Mina. The recommendations are detailed below and summarized in Table 8-2.

8.2.1 Defensible Space Treatments

Following are some general guidelines for improving defensible space around residences and structures in the community.

Property Owner Responsibilities

  • 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.
  • Maintain the defensible space condition as needed.
  • Clear all vegetation and combustible materials around propane tanks for a minimum distance of 10 feet.
  • Thin shrubs should to a spacing equal to twice their height.
  • Remove or clean up abandoned structures.

8.2.2 Community Coordination

Coordination among local, state and federal fire suppression agencies is important in the day-to-day fire prevention activities and becomes critical in the event of a wildland fire. During a fire event, firefighters from other communities and states may be dispatched to areas they have never been before. This is particularly true in areas like Mina that have limited fire suppression resources and will most likely be dependent on an outside agency in the event of a catastrophic wildland fire. The following recommendations should be implemented in Mina that relate to community coordination.

Property Owner Responsibilities

  • Form a local chapter of the Nevada Fire Safe Council. The Nevada Fire Safe Council proposes to work on solutions that reduce the risk of loss of lives and property from wildfires in Nevada’s communities. Through the establishment of a local Chapter, communities become part of a large information-sharing network that receives notifications of programs and funding opportunities for fire mitigation projects such as those listed in this report. The Nevada Fire Safe Council will accept and manage grants and contracts on the Chapter’s behalf through its non-profit status. The Nevada Fire Safe Council provides assistance and support to communities to complete fire safe plans, set priorities, educate and train community members and promote success stories of its members. For more information on forming a chapter, contact:

    Nevada Fire Safe Council
    1187 Charles Drive
    Reno, Nevada 89509
    (775) 322-2413

  • Improve residential address visibility from the road. Address characters should be at least four inches high, reflective, and of fire resistant material. Improving visibility of addresses will make it easier for those unfamiliar with the area to navigate during a wildland fire.
  • Homeowners should work together to improve address visibility in the community.

8.2.3 Public Education

Public education about how to become more fire safe is critical for communities in remote locations such as Mina. Informed community members will take the initiative required to lead efforts of a scale sufficient to effectively reduce the threat that wildland fires present to the entire interface community.

Mina Volunteer Fire Department Responsibilities

  • Distribute copies of the publication “Living with Fire” to all property owners. This publication is free of charge. Copies can be requested from the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, (775) 784-4848.

8.3 Summary of Recommendations

Table 8-2. Mina Wildfire Risk/Hazard Reduction Priority Recommendations
Recommendation Description
Property Owners Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes according to the defensible space guidelines in Appendix D.
Maintain defensible space.
Clear all vegetation and combustible materials around propane tanks for a minimum distance of 10 feet.
Thin shrubs to a spacing equal to twice their height.
Remove or clean up abandoned structures.
Form a local chapter of the Nevada Fire Safe Council.
Post addresses for visibility from roads.
Mina VFD Distribute copies of the publication “Living with Fire” to all property owners.

Figure 8-1

Fire History and Suppression Resources for the Community of Mina

small | large | x-large

Table 8-3

Mina Wildfire Hazard Ratings Summary