Editorial: Time to send right message on wildfires | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Editorial: Time to send right message on wildfires

On Monday, wildland firefighters were demonstrating how volatile the fire season could become while, just miles away, Nevada bureaucrats were trying to figure out how they would pay for fighting the predicted wildfires.

All of this is sending a bad message to area residents who remember vividly the effects of the Waterfall fire in Carson City. It destroyed 17 homes and injured five people in July 2004.

The problem is the Legislature didn’t set aside enough money to handle unexpected expenses.

That wasn’t very good planning.

The Waterfall fire alone cost more than $8 million to fight, yet the 2005 Legislature put just $12 million in the contingency fund to handle all of the state’s unanticipated costs. Much of that went to rising utility and gasoline bills.

Gov. Kenny Guinn said the state will find the money if the fires come, but that having money in that contingency fund will prepare them to get it more quickly. Replenishing that fund will require a special session of the Legislature.

Our response, to borrow a phrase, is get ‘er done.

Send a positive message to uneasy Northern Nevada residents that firefighting will be a priority, and that there will be enough resources to put out fires immediately. As we’re learning from the Waterfall fire, the costs of not doing that will be paid for years. Just this month, the city had to spend $20,000 clearing out storm drains from the debris washed away from the fire-scarred landscape.

And next time, do a better job of planning.

– From the Nevada Appeal in Carson City

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