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KUNR Today: Petrilla Fire Under Control, Extreme Heat Affecting Homeless Residents

An image of a neighborhood with smoke from the Petrilla Fire approaching
Natalie Van Hoozer
KUNR Public Radio
An image taken Wednesday afternoon from south Reno shows smoke near residential neighborhoods.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Thursday, June 17, 2021.

Evacuations Lifted, Roads Reopen For Petrilla Fire
By KUNR Staff

Area residents were evacuated and thousands lost power as a brush fire burned in south Reno Wednesday evening, threatening homes near Galena. The Petrilla Fire burned approximately 350 acres in the Steamboat and Pleasant Valley areas before crews were able to fully contain forward progress of the blaze late Wednesday evening.

All evacuation orders have been lifted and roads in the area have reopened.

As Extreme Heat Blankets The West, Homeless Community Left Vulnerable
By Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

This week’s extreme heat wave is breaking records in our region and leaving homeless people that much more vulnerable to the elements.

Accordingto the National Weather Service, that extreme heat will be sticking around some parts of the region through Saturday. That means people without shelter or housing are that much more vulnerable to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which can be deadly.

Some local governments in our region, including Salt Lake Cityand Nevada’s Clark County, have opened cooling centers in order to provide shelter from the heat. In Denver, all of the city’s recreation centers are free; however, most cooling centers close at night.

Pilot Program To Allow Unsheltered Individuals To Camp Outside Safely Opens In Reno
By Lucia Starbuck

Community members experiencing homelessness can safely sleep outside under a new pilot program in Washoe County. A safe camp is designated as a piece of land that allows unsheltered individuals to sleep outdoors in a controlled environment, with access to facilities such as restrooms and drinking water.

Washoe County will run the pilot program out of the Nevada CARES Campus by allowing people to camp outside on the same property.

“Not everybody is ready to go into a congregate setting. If you’ve been living independently for some time in your own space, that is a really overwhelming thing for someone,” Washoe County Assistant Manager Kate Thomas said.

Thomas said the goal of the safe camp is to transition people into more permanent housing while taking away the stressors of sleeping outside.

“This offers an alternative to living on the streets, or living in an area that’s not safe, and bringing folks into an area that has bathrooms, and water, and meals. And to have somebody not worried about getting kicked out of where they’re staying, that’s a huge relief for somebody that’s in that situation,” Thomas said.

The county will provide 44 tents for the pilot program, but a handful of tents will be pitched per day to allow people to get settled in slowly. There will also be 24-hour security and case workers on site.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Nevada Looking To Incentives To Boost Vaccination Rates
By Paul Boger

Nevada may start offering incentives to residents as part of a national effort to bolster lagging COVID vaccination rates. Gov. Steve Sisolak is slated to release details on the program during a press conference at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas later Thursday.

According to the state's coronavirus dashboard, about 42 percent of residents 12 years and older are fully vaccinated.

Rabies In Bats Confirmed In Washoe, Clark Counties
By Paul Boger

Agricultural officials have confirmed rabies in bats from Clark and Washoe Counties. The Nevada Department of Agriculture's Animal Disease Laboratory announced their findings Wednesday, saying the information should serve as a reminder for the need for rabies vaccinations for pets.

Bats are found throughout the state and are the most common source of disease transmission to humans and animals. The Animal Disease Laboratory typically confirms about 20 cases of bat rabies each year.

California Urges Power Conservation Amid Heat Wave
By The Associated Press

California’s power grid operator is calling for voluntary conservation as the state swelters in a heat wave that's blanketed the West and brought dangerously high temperatures to many areas. The California Independent System Operator has issued a Flex Alert for Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., urging people to set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher and avoid using major appliances. However, the system's CEO says California is unlikely to see a repeat of last summer's rolling blackouts. The National Weather Service is warning of triple-digit highs in deserts and inland areas, and potentially life-threatening temperatures in the Central Valley.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning journalist covering politics, focusing on democracy and solutions for KUNR Public Radio. Her goal is to provide helpful and informative coverage for everyday Nevadans.
Maggie Mullen is a fifth generation Wyomingite, born and raised in Casper. She is currently a Masters candidate in American Studies and will defend her thesis on female body hair in contemporary American culture this May. Before graduate school, she earned her BA in English and French from the University of Wyoming. Maggie enjoys writing, cooking, her bicycle, swimming in rivers and lakes, and most any dog.
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