Ask Joe: Why aren't crews using water from flooded Lemmon Valley to fight fires?

Ask Joe: Why aren't crews using water from flooded Lemmon Valley to fight fires?

Flooding in Lemmon Valley continues to be a problem impacting a lot of people in our viewing area.

One of our viewers has a question tonight about the flooding there and the busy fire season we're having.

Nicole Smith wrote in to ask why fire crews aren't using the water from Swan Lake in Lemmon Valley, since that lake has been overflowing since last winter.

Nicole says she sees planes flying over the lake to pick up water and retardant from other sources. Should they be utilizing Swan Lake more, is her question.

Here's what I found out:

I checked with Charlie Moore, the Truckee Meadows Fire Chief. The main reason they have steered clear of Swan Lake is that the planes that scoop water need a lot of room to maneuver.

Therefore, for safety reasons, they have been using Pyramid Lake and Stampede Reservoir since there is much more space and fewer homes in the vicinity.

I also checked with Lisa Ross with the Bureau of Land Management. She agreed safety is a big issue, and since there are so many homes out in the Lemmon Valley area, that could pose a safety hazard for pilots and residents.

Ross also says Swan Lake is located at the end of a commercial runway, which would be another safety hazard, and it's not all that close to any of the fires they have been fighting.

Those Super Scooper planes the federal government uses to fight fires pick up 1,600 gallons of water at a time. That's a big help in fighting fires, but those in charge also have to put safety first. That's why every effort is made to pick a spot for filling up where pilots have the most room to operate.

It would be nice if the firefighting effort could also help reduce some of the flooding problems in Lemmon Valley, but it just doesn't work out, unfortunately.

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