Drought across West could create perfect storm fire season



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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Drought and weather conditions across the West could create ideal conditions for simultaneous wildfires and make it tougher for Nevada to get out-of-state aid, fire officials said.

Authorities from several agencies briefed Gov. Brian Sandoval on Monday in Carson City on the forecast for the upcoming fire season. Northwestern Nevada is expected to have an above-normal risk for fires from June to August, while the possibility of a wet summer is a toss-up.

"We can't predict the weather. We can't predict where these fires start are," Sandoval said. "But what we can do is make sure that we're equipped, that we're organized, that we're collaborative and that we're ready to go."

Nevada has lost the equivalent of 1 to 2 years' worth of precipitation during the past four years, and the past winter was the warmest on record since 1895 for much of the state, according to the National Weather Service. The lack of snow means dry forests vulnerable to fires.

Similar conditions in other western states could complicate the response. Nevada relies on agreements with agencies from other states to bolster its firefighting forces, and it provides help to other states through mutual aid agreements.

But if several fires happen at once, Nevada could be strained for resources.

A representative from the Nevada Division of Emergency Management said the agency is keeping tabs on state and local personnel and equipment to coordinate crews when needed.

Fire agencies said they are busy educating the public on fire prevention through appearances by Smokey the Bear, while the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is ramping up its "Living With Fire" awareness campaign to teach people how to protect their homes.

Sandoval closed the briefing by signing a multistate proclamation declaring May as Wildfire Awareness Month.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Michelle Rindels

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