Chief’s Corner: Ready or not, fire season is here |

Chief’s Corner: Ready or not, fire season is here

Sean Bailey
Chief’s Corner


Here are some other helpful links regarding Red Flag Warnings and ideas to mitigate the threats to your home from a wildfire:

— Sean Bailey

The National Weather Service in Reno, issued its first 2020 Red Flag Warning for the Truckee/Lake Tahoe area, on July 6.

A Red Flag Warning is an expected weather pattern with warm temperatures, very low humidity, and strong winds. Together these factors combine to produce a high risk fire danger. On average, the Lake Tahoe Basin, Northstar, Olympic Valley, and Truckee receive four to five red flag warnings per year. California and Nevada wildfires that begin under Red Flag Warning conditions are more devasting and life-threatening.

When the area you are in is under a red flag warning, you should be prepared to get into your vehicle and leave if an evacuation order is given. This may seem extreme, but your best chance to survive a wildfire is to prepare ahead of time and immediately evacuate if asked to do so.

The National Weather Service usually gives at least 24 hours of notice before issuing a Red Flag Warning. This is your chance to make minor last-minute mitigating actions to your home. Look around your property for flammable items. Move or cover the items to prevent embers from igniting them. Make sure there is as much distance, as possible, between your house and flammable items. Move all flammable items from wood decks to a safe location, away from structures. These objects can be as small as a straw welcome mat.

California and Nevada wildfires that begin under Red Flag Warning conditions are more devasting and life-threatening.

Load your vehicle with essential items and be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of fuel. Listen to the radio and make sure you are set up to receive emergency notifications via text or email, from the area you are in..

During Red Flag Warnings:

Never use lawn mowers in dry vegetation.

Spark arresters are required on all portable gasoline-powered equipment.

Refrain from using chainsaws.

Postpone all hot work (torches, welding, etc…)

Do not park vehicles in dry grass.

Ensure trailer chains do not drag on the ground.

Make sure cigarette butts are properly extinguished.

Do not burn landscape debris.

Do not use fireworks.

Please visit your local fire department’s website for localized information regarding wildfire preparation. Regional information includes defensible space rules, evacuation, and notification information.

All of the local fire agencies take Red Flag Warnings very seriously. To be better prepared, most agencies increase staffing and resources. Do your part by making sure you are ready before the next Red Flag Warning is issued.

Sean Bailey is fire chief for the Northstar Fire Department.

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