Fire officials preparing for a potentially dangerous wildfire season

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Updated: 4/17/2014 6:33 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & -- Warmer weather is here and summer is on the way. After another dry winter, officials hope to extinguish a potentially dangerous fire season before it ignites.

The good news is fire officials say there's less of the grasses that usually help fires spread quickly, but the mix of dry fuels and our wind-prone climate means prescribed burns could be more dangerous than helpful this spring.

"Trying to operate a prescribed burn in cheat grass it is too easy for the fire to get away," said natural resource specialist Ann Bollinger.

So they're using a less dangerous and more adorable method: sheep.

The sheep are eating cheat grass in the hills surrounding Carson City.

Bollinger said, while they can't eliminate the threat of fire, they can reduce the damage.

"We're just hoping to slow the fire and give the firefighters a chance to jump on it," she said.

Carson City Assistant Fire Chief Tom Tarulli said the sheep are a valuable asset.

"The community loves them because they're cute to look at, and we love to see them because we respect them as little firefighters," he said.

The 750 sheep will eat about four thousand pounds of fire fuels a day.

"The more they eat the less that will burn," Tarulli said.

Truckee Meadows Fire Captain Scott Stephenson said the conditions in our area make fire a constant threat.

"As far as wildland fires go, climate is everything," Stephenson said.

Because of this drought, Battalion Chief Dave French said every season is fire season.

"Every day in my line of work is a possible potential day for a wildland fire," French said.

So crews are gearing up, checking equipment and planning for the worst.

Another group of sheep is heading to graze in south Reno starting Friday, so you may see them in the hills near Thomas Creek for the next few weeks.
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