A Message from Governor Jim Gibbons
It is difficult to visualize how much of our state is burning. As of 3:00 p.m. on July 20th, approximately 72 wildfires are burning in Nevada. A total of 564 fires have consumed an estimated 341,000 acres already this year.
This week I visited firefighters in both Reno and Elko as they battled the Hawken fire southwest of Reno and numerous blazes currently burning across northeast Nevada. In one short helicopter ride, I saw fires that have consumed 300,000 acres in Elko County alone. Besides the loss of grasslands, the impact on wildlife and ecology will be devastating. Businesses that depend on ranching and hunting will suffer the effects for years to come.
Nevada’s state agencies are working together to battle these wildfires, and I am proud of how everyone is pitching in. The Nevada Department of Transportation has joined our Division of Forestry, the Nevada National Guard and city and county governments in supplying manpower and equipment. Just today the Clark County Fire Department sent fire engines to Elko. Nevada is currently at the top of the federal government’s fire list, so we hold top priority for getting federal resources. A combined total of nearly 2,000 firefighters from federal, state and local agencies are now at work fighting wildland fires across the state.
This week I signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Nevada and directed all state agencies to assist our counties and towns wherever needed to protect the health and safety of Nevadans as well as their property. This allows agencies to use the state’s Disaster Relief Fund to supplement firefighting budgets wherever necessary.
Together, we are winning the fight against wildfire. Unfortunately, the peak of this fire season still lies in the weeks ahead. Plants will get even drier during the heat of summer, and August traditionally brings the highest probability of lightning. We cannot control rainfall or lightning, but we can each exercise caution whenever we venture into the wilderness. Our state and our safety depend on it.