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Truckee officer catches suspect with CHP vehicle

Renee Shadforth

A Nevada County plan that is in the works may ultimately require homeowners to create defensible space and other fire fuel management measures around their homes and communities.

Though an ordinance requiring defensible space may be in the county’s future, the committee’s goal is to encourage voluntary compliance through community awareness and incentive programs, said Tony Clarabut, chairman of the Nevada County Fire Plan Committee and chief of the California Department of Forestry’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit.

“Our goal is voluntary fuel reduction,” Clarabut said.

The committee was formed by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors to mitigate what they say is an increasing fire threat in the county.

Other goals for the plan include public safety enhancements, infrastructure improvements and collaboration of all county agencies to efficiently implement mitigation measures.

The committee will recommend measures to reduce the fire threat on life, property and natural resources in the county to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors by the end of June.

Unless the Town of Truckee adopts an ordinance that’s in line with the committee’s suggestions, Clarabut said only the unincorporated areas would fall under the plan. However, citizens of incorporated areas can participate in the process.

When asked for comment on the county fire plan, Truckee Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook said he could not comment on the because he hasn’t been involved in the process.

More Truckee input

Fire Prevention Officer Chuck Thomas, of the Truckee Fire Protection District, said he would like more people in Truckee and eastern Nevada County get involved in the formation of the plan.

Though Thomas is not on the fire plan committee, he has been present as a representative of eastern Nevada County at most of the committee’s meetings in Nevada City. Last month a fire plan workshop was held in Truckee and was attended by eight homeowners association representatives and few or no community members.

Thomas said he’d like to see more people from eastern Nevada County get involved in the creation of the fire plan.

“For it to be a useful program, the public needs to give input,” Thomas said.

Eastern Nevada County residents will have the opportunity to attend another workshop in May. No specific date has been scheduled, yet.

“The impact of a fire plan on the community will be very minuscule compared to the impact a catastrophic fire could have on the community,” Thomas said.

Nevada County’s brush overgrown?

The board of supervisors assembled the fire plan committee Ð comprised of forest service, CDF, fire department, emergency services and fire safe council representatives Ð to look into measures to reduce the fire threat in Nevada County.

“The [fire threat] situation, in the mind of a lot of public officials, is getting worse and not better,” Clarabut said.

More than 150 years ago, low-intensity fires were a part of the natural process in the local, fire-adapted ecosystem in Nevada County, Clarabut said.

Since approximately 1850, people in the area have made a “full-on effort to stop all fire,” he said. “Now there’s an overabundance of brush, which creates an environment for large fires.”

In western Nevada County the fire threat is greater than eastern county because the fire season is longer and there’s more brush, Thomas said.

Go to the meeting

The Nevada County Fire Plan Committee meets the first and third Friday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Nevada County Consolidated Fire station No. 84 at Highway 49 and Coyote Street in Nevada City.

Call committee chairman Tony Clarabut at 823-4218 for more information.