The smoke from the fires is making the air in Reno almost unbreathable. I didn’t go out at all this weekend.

Most of the smoke this last week has been from the Yosemite fire, but now the Carr Fire in Shasta County is contributing. I have whined in this space in previous years about how California fires make the Reno air smoky.

This is what Peavine Peak normally looks like from our house:


This weekend it was invisible. So was Downtown, for that matter.

I am closer to the mountain here at the office:


This morning I can barely see it.

Saturday and Sunday I saw the lovely Blood Moon setting; but this morning we also had a Blood Sun rising.

We’ve had our own fires. The Martin Fire was the largest fire in the country this month, at 435,569 acres, or 680 square miles, but it was far enough away from us that we didn’t see any smoke; and far enough away from everyone else that it didn’t make the news outside Nevada. There was a small fire right here in Hidden Valley on Thursday, and the Perry Fire is burning south of Pyramid Lake where Ingrid and I went shooting a month or two ago.

The images from the Carr Fire, like those from last October’s and December’s fires, are pretty alarming. It’s hard to imagine a fire just charging through built up areas like that. I’ve been wondering what you really need for that to happen. What kind of surrounding forest and brush does it take? I look around and I’m pretty sure we are safe here. We don’t have chaparral here on the eastern and northern sides of the valley, our hillsides are covered with grass. The grass burns readily, the hills east of Sparks seem to burn annually, but I don’t think the fires get hot enough to rage into the neighborhoods. I think perhaps the mustangs, widely regarded as pests, reduce the fire risk by keeping the grass cropped.

Last Thursday’s fire in Hidden Valley, which I don’t think was even given a name, just left a big black patch on a grassy hill. The homes less than 100 feet below the fire are newer ones, with tile roofs and stucco walls. Unless surrounded by heavy trees and brush, which they aren’t because they are so new, such buildings seem to be invulnerable to a nearby grass fire. While my own home is older, and the homes below mine on the hill are older yet, with lots of mature trees and other plantings, the homes above us are newer, clad in tile and stucco and with very few trees or shrubbery. I don’t see a fire getting much traction here, aside from burning up the hillside, which would be sad, but the annual east Sparks examples show that the burned areas grow right back the next year. The fires might even rejuvenate them.

The hills to the south and west are a different story: they are heavily forested, and fires are a real scary threat there. I wouldn’t want to live in the Galena Creek area, for example, as beautiful as it is (and we did look at homes down there).