From the Ask Joe File a question about something we're seeing a lot of lately and that is fires.
Presley Driskill wrote in saying she's always been curious where they get the names for a fire. Is it from a mountain or something else she wants to know ?
I checked with Elaine Briggs down at the fire command for the Bison Fire in Douglas County. Briggs says they typically look for the nearest geographical marker, whether it's a mountain, lake or some other easy reference point. In the case of the Bison Fire the nearest landmark was Buffalo Canyon, but they already had a fire they named the Buffalo Fire a little while back so to avoid confusion they called this one the Bison Fire.
Briggs says it is important to come up with a name early on so they can start entering all of the information about firefighting resources into their computer system and keep track of it all under a given name.
Of course some of the names garner a little more attention than others. A lot of people will remember the Jackass Fire a few years ago. That fire burned thousands of acres south of Reno, and was named after a nearby meadow. They did not make that name up!