NEVADA CITY, Calif. July 26, 2017 – A small fire on the old airport property, owned by Nevada City, was quickly contained by firefighters yesterday afternoon. The 1/4-acre blaze dubbed the Piper Fire had no immediately apparent cause and no structures were damaged or destroyed. However, the fire brought to light the current condition of the property – logging slash left after removing beetle kill trees, abandoned vehicles and no access control.
According to neighbors just below the city-owned property, trespassing is a daily occurrence. Transients, parties and dumping trash appeared to be their main complaints before the logging took place. Now, the fire danger has been added to the mix, according to Annette Seabury whose property is adjacent to the old airport.
She was very thankful the firefighters contained the fire which started 30 ft from her property, but had strong words for city officials. “Thank you, all fire personnel who came out today! I’m still furious that the airport land was logged and raped and looks dreadful, not to mention that fire personnel had ZERO ACCESS to a fire 30 feet from my property…what’s up City of Nevada City?” she wrote in a comment on YubaNet’s Facebook page.
Nevada City’s Engineer Brian McAlister stated the city had hired a logging contractor to remove beetle kill trees from the property. He was not aware of the current condition but said he or staff would go out and inspect the work done.
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An air tanker was overhead as firefighters made access to the fire. A retardant drop kept the fire in check as a dozer from Station 20 in Nevada City drove in and scraped a line around the fire. By then, smoke was visible from Cement Hill, the Rood Center and downtown Nevada City.
Engines and the water tender were unable to drive right up to the fire, the logs and branches left from the tree removal prevented access.
Given the current conditions with very high temperatures and multiple fire starts each day, cleaning up the slash field and securing the gate on the road to the property with a real lock should be a priority.