Friday, August 28, 2009

Signs of Fire

We drove across Nevada last week, and then drove back again - not all in one day, but on two days about one week apart. We saw signs of fire on both the westward and eastward legs of our journey. The first sign of fire, besides an overall haziness, was smoke north of Highway 50 between Mt. Airy Summit and New Pass Summit, west of Austin and northeast of Cold Springs. Rays of sunlight shone through hovering cumulus clouds, adding a little drama to the view.
The smoke was from this fire, which finally came into our view as we drove into Edwards Creek Valley. The burning hills are in the northern end of the Clan Alpine Mountains, a part of the mountains consisting of a low range of hills straddling the Clan Alpine Mountains proper to the west and the New Pass Range just east (right) of the photo.
This is the Hoyt Fire. It was burning when we drove through...
...a week later - yesterday - it looked like this.
On that same first day, we got a passing look at the remains of the Trailer 1 and Red Rock Fires. The Red Rock Fire, above, burned along a granitic ridge north of the first Red Rock exit on 395 north out of Reno in Nevada and California. This ridge, Petersen Mountain, has burned two or three times in my memory - the first time being in either the mid or late 1970's. The area introduced me to cheat grass, which grows amidst crested wheatgrass that was planted in the area as early as the late 1970's.
Farther to the north, at the second Red Rock exit on 395 in California, the Trailer 1 Fire is marked by a spray of red fire retardant on the right side of the photo and by blackened trees above the red and white rocks. The fire retardant is the same color as the reddish-brown Tertiary ash-flow tuff: the red rocks that give the looping Red Rock Road its name.
A closer view of the southern part of the Trailer 1 Fire, with red fire retardant, white tuff, and blackened trees and bushes.
On our way back through Reno yesterday, there was a lot of smoke around, including some that had piled up in Sierra Valley north of town, just west of Beckwourth Pass. This smoke might be from a fire in the immediate area - which is what it looked like in passing - or possibly it is smoke blown north from the Big Meadow Fire in the Yosemite area.
The smoke in Reno - seen in this photo that looks south - is supposed to be from the Big Meadow Fire near Yosemite. Most of the Sierra Nevada wasn't visible through the smoke - in Reno we could see Mt. Rose, Slide Mountain, and part of the Carson Range to the south, but we couldn't see the mountains down near Markleeville.
We could see this same thick blanket of smoke from Highway 50 east of Fallon looking west back toward Reno, and although we couldn't see the Virginia or Carson Ranges, we could see the 9,005-foot-high peak of Mt. Como in the Pine Nut Mountains in the distance.

I hope these things stop burning soon.

Thanks to @NevadaWolf for telling me a bit about these fires and for pointing me towards some fire-incident links.

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