Washoe County Announcement

Fire investigations reveal causes for Woodchuck and Cone Fires
Investigations point to origin of fires as human caused

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Charles A. Moore, Fire Chief

 ***UPDATE - 9.20.2017 2:00 p.m.***

The Woodchuck Fire containment has now reached 90 percent, with 100 percent containment expected by 4 p.m. today. 

Reno, Nev. Sept. 20, 2017. According to Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (TMFPD), after investigations of both the Woodchuck and Cone Fires, origins of both point to being human caused.

Cone Fire. After a complete investigation conducted by the US Forest Service, the cause of the Cone Fire that burned above Belli Ranch, has been confirmed by investiagtors as started by a campfire that was improperly extinguished. "Investigators actually noticed that there were two illegal campfires that burned in the area, however we now know that one of them was the cause of this fire,” stated TMFPD Fire Chief, Charles Moore. “We want to let the public know to only start a campfire in designated camping areas, and any campfire must be properly extinguished.”

Woodchuck Fire. While the full investigation is still ongoing, after a preliminary investigation TMFPD can confirm this fire was not intentionally caused and arson is not suspected. The fire has confirmed to be accidentally caused and began at a construction site. “At this time it appears the fire was human caused and began accidentally,” remarks Moore. “We will have more details after the full investigation has been completed.”

The Woodchuck fire-fighting efforts are still underway as crews are on the ground, with the fire having burned 62 acres and is now at 50 percent containment. “With a wind event expected tomorrow, our crews are being diligent mopping up out there working to get ahead of tomorrow’s wind threat,” says Moore.

“Once again I would like to thank all of our mutual aid and regional partners who assisted us,” says Moore. “The aircraft resources were vital as the fire burned up to the backyards of many homes, further illustrating how important keeping defensible space around your home is.” For a map of the Woodchuck Fire burn area, please click here.

Fire season is not over. Despite the cooling temperatures TMFPD wants to make the public aware that the fire threat is not only not over, but is actually worse in the fall. “Fire threat is most severe in late fall as fuels have dried on the ground, increasing the fire threat,” remarks Moore. “Not only are wildfires worse, due to the colder temperatures, we also see the most structure fires between Thanksgiving and Christmas due to people using heating devices that have not been properly maintained.”

TMFPD recommends that the public get their heating devices checked before use and ensure they are maintained and in good working condition. 

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