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September 2, 2014

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Nevada’s worst fires seasons this millennium

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Tim Dunn / AP

Emergency personnel respond to a wildfire in Reno on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. Nevada firefighters are battling a wind-whipped wildfire that has already burned several homes and caused several injuries. Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said fire crews are having a tough time “getting ahead of” the 400-acre blaze. He also says flames broke off into two areas in Caughlin Ranch. Hernandez says about a dozen homes have burned.

Nevada experienced its worst fire season on record in 1999 when more than 2 million acres burned across the state. In 2000, the National Fire Plan dispersed $1.5 million to create 3,500 firefighter positions nationwide, including 200 positions in Nevada to enhance the state’s firefighting capabilities after the record devastation. According to the Western Great Basin Coordination Center, more than 600,000 acres of the state’s terrain is predicted to burn this fire season. Here’s a look at Nevada’s worst fires and scorched terrain during this millennium:

Nevada wildfires

  • 2012 prediction: More than 600,000 acres will burn
  • 2011: 424,168 acres
  • 2010: 23,867 acres
  • 2009: 33,365 acres
  • 2008: 71,900 acres
  • 2007: 890,171 acres
  • 2006: 1.3 million acres
  • 2005: 1.7 million acres
  • 2004: 43,000 acres
  • 2003: 17,546 acres
  • 2002: 77,551 acres
  • 2001: 654,253 acres
  • 2000: 699,200 acres
  • Source: Western Great Basin Coordination Center
    • 2011 – 424,168 acres

      Winds in excess of 70 mph and dry conditions sparked a perfect storm in Reno that led to the worst wildfire in the city’s history in the early morning hours of Nov. 18. Nearly 10,000 people were evacuated from their homes and one man died from a heart attack while evacuating. Former state archivist Guy Rocha said the fire would likely go down as the largest “urban” wild land fire in Reno’s history, burning 1,953 acres and destroying 30 homes. Another half-dozen homes were seriously damaged.

    • 2007 - 890,171 acres

      Northern Nevadans in the Lake Tahoe region witnessed the devastation caused by a wildfire blamed on arson in the summer of 2007. California officials declared a state of emergency and the National Weather Service issued a dense smoke advisory warning people from South Lake Tahoe to Carson City, that heavy ash was making it difficult to see and breathe.

    • 2006 - 1.3 million acres

      Elko County sustained the worst fire season in history when nearly 1 million acres burned, accounting for two-thirds of acreage scorched in the state. Fires burned into the yards of some Elko homes, forcing residents to evacuate. The Linehan Fire outside Carson City burned more than 11,500 acres, forcing the temporary evacuation of the Mound House area.

    • 2005 - 1.7 million acres

      Southern Nevada wilderness was included in the massive Duzak fire and adjacent Meadow Valley fire near the Mormon Mountains northwest of Mesquite that resulted in more than 350,000 acres burned. Firefighters battled the largest of the blazes in secluded parts of Lincoln and Clark counties. The state spent more that $5 million in firefighting costs during the year’s wildfire season.

    • 2001 - 654,253 acres

      The Interstate 80 corridor in the Winnemucca area suffered the most wildfire damage in 2001, with 74,000 acres burned in southwest Winnemucca, 80,000 acres near Midas and 41,000 acres in the Upper Willow area of the Santa Rosa Mountains.

    • 2000 - 699,200 acres

      Central and Southern Nevada saw several wildfires spark during the 2000 fire season. Nevada pilot Lester Shadrick was killed when his helicopter crashed east of Fallon while working on the Twin Peaks blaze that consumed 37,770 acres of land. Coyote fire in east-central Nevada burned more than 15,000 acres while more than 600 firefighters fought to contain a 3,500-acre fire over Buck Springs near Pahrump. Trout Canyon, just 30 miles west of Las Vegas, caught fire and scorched 675 acres in early August.

    The Associated Press and Reno Gazette-Journal contributed to this report.

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