A fire broke out at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park just after 8 p.m. Monday night during an Artown performance just a few hundred yards away from concert attendees. It was accidentally started by a family launching model rockets just outside the northwest entrance to the park’s dog park.
Dog owners, passersby, a park employee and a nearby Reno Police officer frantically scrambled to extinguish the rapidly spreading flames.
A Reno resident and his two young children were launching hobby rockets in the sagebrush-laden parking lot. The father said the fire started when one of the rockets landed in some dry sage.
“I don’t know what ignited it,” he told This Is Reno. “It hit the ground, there was no smoke or anything. We gave it a couple of minutes and then just, boom, into a ball of fire.”
People in the area kicked and threw dirt with their hands and dumped bottled water on the fire to keep it from spreading. They were able to put out most of the flames before firefighters from Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District and Reno Fire Department arrived and finished the job. The fire was contained to 0.2 acres and no injuries or property damage were reported.
TMFPD officials strongly discourage the use of such devices in open brush areas. The man who was using the rockets self-reported to police and fire officials. It is unknown if he will face any fines or fees associated with the response.
Fire risk is high in the region right now as hot, dry weather conditions have combined with dry conditions on the ground. The current burn code is red, no burning allowed. For more information on fire prevention visit https://tmfpd.us/.