The investigation into the cause of the Lyon Fire in Washoe Valley that started on Thursday, November 8, has been determined to be improper disposal of ashes from a wood burning appliance (fireplace or woodstove). The investigation is ongoing.
Deputies from the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (TMFPD) began their investigation of the cause of the fire, even while firefighters continued to suppress the fire, and were able to locate the area of origin. Evidence was documented and interviews of individuals and witnesses were conducted. When the full investigation is concluded, the findings and evidence will be presented to the appropriate authorities.
“This fire affected many citizens living in the area through the destruction of their property and it needlessly caused a sense of panic,” said TMFPD Chief Charles A. Moore. “This fire had great potential to destroy the lives and property of a great many more. Given the recent fires this community has endured, I want to inspire a greater sense of citizenship for those individuals who may not yet comprehend how critical this issue is. Fire safety and fire prevention must be everyone’s responsibility, and that responsibility must rest with each and every citizen and each and every community. Fire Department intervention, enforcement and defensible spaces are only effective to a point. Fire safety messages and public education have their limits. The only thing we have left is individual responsibility and citizenship to do the right thing.”
Moore added that individuals who ignore prohibitions on open burning or who show careless disregard for existing fire safety laws can expect robust enforcement from TMFPD, up to and including the possibility of criminal prosecution. Open burning is currently illegal within the District and is dangerous with the current conditions in the area. Moore urged the public to call 911 to report illegal open burning within the District.
Moore also continued to advise all residents to use maximum caution with fireplace ashes and to think about fire safety, especially since existing vegetation is still very dry due to drought conditions.