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16.0 Weed Heights

16.1 Hazard and Risk Assessment

Weed Heights is a small community located east of Yerington in Mason Valley. The community is bordered to the west and south by the Singatse Range, and to the north and east by Anaconda Mine tailings (see Figure 16-1). Approximately 27 residences were evaluated during the risk/hazard assessment. The assessment resulted in classifying Weed Heights in the Moderate Hazard category (42 points). This score is attributed primarily to the close proximity between homes and difficulty in reading street signs and addresses. The community wildfire hazard score sheet is provided at the end of this section. The specific findings for each of the wildland fire assessment parameters are reported below.

16.1.1 Community Design

The urban interface in Weed Heights can be described as classic interface. There is a clear line of demarcation between the wildland fuels and the residences. Lot sizes are primarily less than one acre.

Roads: The primary access route for Weed Heights residences is Burch Drive. This road is between 20 and 24 feet wide and allows adequate room for fire suppression equipment to maneuver. Secondary roads in the community have adequate turn-around space at road terminus points for fire suppression equipment. Road grades exceed five percent in some areas of the community.

Signage: The majority of residential streets in Weed Heights have street signs that are starting to fade and are difficult to read. About three-quarters of residential addresses are easily visible. Clear and visible residential addresses and street signs are important to aid fire-fighting personnel in locating homes during low visibility conditions that may be present during a wildland fire.

Utilities: The utilities that serve Weed Heights are primarily above ground power lines and propane tanks. In general utility right-of-ways have been adequately maintained and pose only a low ignition risk to the community.

16.1.2 Construction Materials

All of the homes observed in the interface area were built with fire resistant siding and roofing materials. Very few of the homes observed had unenclosed balconies, porches, decks or other architectural features that can create drafty areas where sparks and embers can be trapped, smolder, and ignite, rapidly spreading fire to the home.

16.1.3 Defensible Space

A majority of the homes had landscaping that would meet the defensible space landscape requirement to protect the home from damage or minimize loss during a wildfire.

16.1.4 Suppression Capabilities

Wildfire Protection Resources

Wildfire protection is provided by the Mason Valley Fire Protection District. There is no established volunteer fire department in Weed Heights. Refer to Section 4.2 for more information on equipment and resources available.

Water Sources and Infrastructure

Water availability for fire suppression in Weed Heights includes:

  • Community wells;
  • 500 gpm hydrants within 1,000 feet of structures;
  • Water storage tanks; and the
  • Anaconda pit water that can be used as a helicopter dip site.

The community water system operates on gravity and electric pumps, with a backup diesel generator.

16.1.5 Factors Affecting Fire Behavior

Fuels along the Weed Heights interface were primarily salt desert shrub vegetation. Shrub species in the area included greasewood, spiny hopsage, Mormon tea, and shadscale. Ground fuels were composed of cheatgrass, Indian ricegrass, Russian thistle and bottlebrush squirreltail. Spacing between plants was generally between five and 20 feet with shrub heights of one to two feet. The fuel load was estimated at less than one ton per acre. Fuels around Weed Heights were considered to be a low hazard.

Weed Heights is surrounded by foothills and mountains to the west, and slopes within the community less than ten percent. The general aspect is to the east, and the predominant wind directions are from the west and southwest.

16.1.6 Fire Behavior Worst-case Scenario

The worst-case fire behavior scenario would likely occur on a high hazard day during the summer months, in an above-normal precipitation year that results in high cheatgrass production. A fire ignition west of the community could spread toward the community if driven by typical afternoon downslope west winds. Typical flames lengths in the fuel type around Weed Heights would be two to four feet with fire spread rates of 660 to 1,980 feet per hour. The light fuel load and associated fire behavior would facilitate fire suppression.

16.1.7 Ignition Risk Assessment

Weed Heights has a low risk of fire ignition. Mine tailings act as firebreaks on the east and north sides of the community.

16.2 Risk and Hazard Reduction Recommendations, Roles, and Responsibilities

The responsibility to keep a community fire safe falls not only on the local fire protection district but also on the residents of the community, businesses, and local governments. The recommendations for Weed Heights focus primarily on additional efforts that can be taken by community members and public agencies to increase wildfire safety through reduction of hazardous fuels. Other recommendations pertain to community coordination and public education efforts that could be undertaken to enhance fire safety in Weed Heights. The recommendations are detailed below and summarized in Table 16-1.

16.2.1 Defensible Space Treatments

The density and type of fuel around a home affects the potential fire exposure levels to the home. The goals of defensible space are to reduce the chances of a wildfire spreading onto adjacent property and igniting homes, and to reduce the risk of property loss from wildfire. General guidelines for creating defensible space around residences and structures in the community are given below and are described in detail in Appendix E.

Property Owner Responsibilities
  • Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation to create defensible space around homes according to the guidelines in Appendix E. This area should be kept:
    • Lean: There are only small amounts of flammable vegetation
    • Clean: There is no accumulation of dead vegetation or other flammable debris
    • Green: Existing plants are healthy and green during the fire season.
  • Immediately dispose of cleared vegetation when implementing defensible space treatments. This material dries quickly and poses a fire hazard if left on site.
  • Remove debris and flammable materials from within the defensible space area.
  • Maintain defensible space as needed to keep the space lean, clean, and green.
  • Mow or remove brush growing against wood fences in the community.
  • Clear all vegetation and combustible materials around propane tanks for a minimum distance of ten feet.
  • Abandoned trailers and structures should be removed or boarded up to prevent sparks entering and igniting the structure.

16.2.2 Community Coordination

Coordination among local, state, and federal fire suppression agencies is important in the day-to-day fire prevention activities and becomes critical in the event of a wildland fire. During a fire event, firefighters from other communities and states may be dispatched to protect areas they have never been before. This is particularly true in areas that have limited fire suppression resources and will most likely depend on outside assistance in the event of a catastrophic wildland fire. The following are recommendations should be implemented in Weed Heights to promote interagency and community coordination.

Property Owner Responsibilities
  • Assure that residential addresses are visible from the road. Address characters should be at least four inches high, fire resistant, and composed of non-flammable material. Improving visibility of addresses will make it easier for those unfamiliar with the area to navigate under smoky conditions in the event of a wildland fire .
Lyon County Responsibilities
  • Improve street sign visibility.

16.2.3 Public Education

Increased public education on fire safety is critical in communities that have rapidly growing populations, especially when many of the areas being developed are larger lots intermixed with wildland fuels. People moving into the area may be unfamiliar with fire-prone environments.

Mason Valley Fire Protection District Responsibilities
  • Distribute copies of the publication Living with Fire to all property owners. This publication is free of charge. Copies can be requested from the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.
  • Enforce or develop county laws, regulations, and ordinances that support implementation and maintenance of defensible space and address fuel reduction responsibilities for absentee homeowners and vacant lots.

16.3 Summary of Recommendations

Table 16-1. Weed Heights Risk/Hazard Reduction Priority Recommendations

Responsible Party Recommended Treatment Recommendation Description
Property Owners Defensible Space Treatments Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes according to the guidelines in Appendix E.

Figure 16-1

Fire History for the Community of Weed Heights

16.0 Weed Heights 16.1 Hazard and Risk Assessment Weed Heights is a small community located east of Yerington in Mason Valley. The community is bordered to the west and south by the Singatse

Yerington Mondays

Original “Yerington Monday” posts from Facebook

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Yerington Monday: Weed Heights

10 comments:

I was born at the Yerington hospital by Doctor Beams in 1961. My dad Fred Taylor Jr., my grandpa Fred Taylor Sr. And my uncle Everett Harris all worked at Anaconda and lived in Weed Heights. My parents and brother and I lived on Belmont St. Front row 3rd house from corner on end by desert. My grandparents lived in a mobile home bellow Belmont from my parents. My aunt & uncle Harris and cousins Kenny, Mike and Steve lived on Eurika St 3rd hous in on desert end. It was so cool having so much family around in one neighborhood. I learned how to swim, ride a bike and go out in the desert and catch horn toads. My best friend lived in the mobile home at the end of Belmont. We moved in 67 before the big strike. My grandparents stayed in Weed Heights and grandpa retired in I believe 72. They moved to Yerington. I remember the flash flood that went thru town in I’m guessing 65 or 66? I remember hearing the Dart dump trucks running at night and the sound off in the distance always put me to sleep. When I came back to visit in 78 it just was not the same hearing them trucks. In June taking my family to Yerington, Weed Heights, Virginia City, Carson City and Reno. Going to document it all and show my kids that dad did live in a ghost town.

I was born there. My Dad was Pete Miller and I li ed at 203 Comstock, next to the Tanners and behind the Windsors. Sparkle Martin was my baby sitter. I loved it there

I lived there in 1982 until 1986 when my dad. hmc 1st class united states navy retired. i remember don tibbals making the swings out of yellow straps back then. We lived on austin street in the first house beside the old bowling alley. My most fond and happiest childhood memories were there. Would love to go back and walk the hallowed ground of my childhood memories once more
Planning a trip there in 2020.

My mother lived in Weed Heights as a child. Her parents were Elmo and Janette Guinn. Sister Mildred(born in 1942) graduated from Yerington High school. My mom is Connie and they moved to Utah right before she would have graduated HS. And her little brother Don.She has told me so many memories of living there that I feel like I know the place myself. Yesterday I pulled up the google maps image of Weed Heights to have her show me their home there, but the names of the streets have changed and she had a hard time finding the home they lived in. Would anyone by chance have a map or know where I can find a map of the old street names?

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I found a map or blue print of Weed Heights before it was built. It has all the street names on it. But I do not know how to post it on here. But I can name them for you.
TOP TO BOTTOM
Goldfield St.
Fairview St.
Eurika St.
Dayton St.
Comstock St.
Bonanza St.
Austin St.

LEFT TO RIGHT
Mead Ave.
Pyramid Ave
Tahoe Ave.
Topaz Ave.
Walker Ave.

With Virginia St. entering Weed Heights.
I hope that helps. For the most part the names of the streets have remained. Goldfield St is now Gabbs St. Bonanza St. is now Belmont St. and Virginia St. is now Burch St.

My son and I were just their June 6th through the 12th doing a documentary for the family. The old Sage Crest Drive-In will be torn down and filled in with old tailings from Anaconda Copper Mine. There are talks that Weed Heights may be bought from the Tibbals and leveled and filled in with old tailings. They are wanting to lower the waist rock tailing mounds that are so tall I guess so that it isn’t as ugly? I know the locals have a renewed interest in the drive-in now and hoping to save it and fix it up and reopen it. Not sure that will happen but I hope so and I hope the Tibbals family does not sale Weed Heights to Arco who owns the mine now.

Thank you Doug. That does help! She actually lived at 114 Bonanza. Would there be a way that you could email me the map? [email protected]
Very interesting information you shared. I will have to let my mom know so she can go visit before it is completely gone. When did your family live there?

Yes, I would be happy to do so. My parents moved there in 1960, I was born in 1961 and we moved in the summer of 1967. My parents first moved into a 4 unit apartment with 2 two bedroom units on the ends and 2 one bedroom units in the middle on Eurika in one of the one bedroom units until I was born then the moved to Bonanza Street into another 4 unit apartment right behind the rec center in a two bedroom unit but then moved into a 2 bedroom house on Bonanza at 298. It was three houses in from Walker Ave. My grandparents lived below us in the trailer park and my aunt, uncle and three cousins lived on Eurika St 3 houses in from Walker Ave. As a little boy my family was all very close. Was the only life I knew then. We didn’t live far apart, I found 114 on google map. The road name has changed to Belmont. It is amazing how many of the old homes are all boarded up still to this day! I remember seeing it soon after the mine had closed and it was a ghost town! I would say 2/3 or less is lived in and the rest are empty. I remember everything being so green and pretty but not much green anymore. The swim pool is all shut down and small tree’s growing along the pool edge. The lady who lives in our old home actually allowed me to come in and see the inside. It was so strange seeing it after so many years!

I’ve been visiting my in-laws in Yerington for years now, never knew about Weed Heights. Last week, we drove through Weed Heights, it is mostly abandoned, but the few homes that are still being lived in now, are so cute and charming and one word that comes to mind is, nostalgic. That little community should come to life again, but sadly I heard that would never happen. I hope I heard wrong.

If you weed once a month, with a hoe, it will take very little time. The most important weeding is early spring when water is abundant and seedlings are just sprouting. weed games

Yerington Mondays Original “Yerington Monday” posts from Facebook Thursday, January 7, 2016 Yerington Monday: Weed Heights 10 comments: I was born at the Yerington hospital by