BLM Bans Off-Roading In Western NV Because Of Fire Danger

Jul 3, 2016

A photo of the Hawken Fire in south Reno in June, 2016.
Credit Marcus Lavergne

Several agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, have banned off-roading for vehicles in western Nevada because of high fire danger. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Billman reports.

The ban is a response to the ongoing drought and tinder-dry vegetation. Charles Moore is chief of the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District. He says under the rule, vehicles are only allowed on existing paved, gravel, and dirt roads, not anywhere else.

"You roll over the top of tall grass and it's almost certain that you're going to start a wildfire because catalytic converters are many hundreds of degrees hot, and that's really all it takes to get the brush started."

Multiple agencies joined forces to announce the restrictions, which also include limitations on outdoor fires and smoking.

Moore says he's concerned because of how many wildfires his crews have been battling so early in the season, some from unexpected causes.

"We have seen birds take flight from powerlines and their wings arch across two powerlines. The bird basically catches fire and falls to the ground and starts a wildland fire. You wouldn't even think that's even possible, but it is, and we've seen two."

Target and recreational shooting have also created issues. For the recent Hawken Fire in south Reno, Moore says they've ruled out every possibility except electrical failure, but since they don't know if there was a power line event, the cause will remain undetermined.

For updates on emergencies in Washoe County, check out the Washoe Code Red app.