For the first time in five days, firefighters battling more than 215 square miles of wildfires in Nevada had reason for optimism Thursday thanks in part to better weather and reinforcements from across the West.
With scattered showers, lower temperatures and higher humidity,
fire crews were holding their own against a 78,300-acre fire in
eastern Nevada that earlier in the week closed 20 miles of U.S.
Interstate 80 from Carlin to Elko.
"The threats to Elko and Carlin are greatly subsided," said
Chuck Stanich, incident commander for the Type I fire management
The 5,000-acre Linehan fire that threatened up to 300 homes at
one point and forced evacuations around Carson City was in mop-up
mode on Thursday.
"Things are looking pretty good. It looks like about 50
percent," Nevada of Forestry spokeswoman Lisa Ortega said of
containment on the 10,995-acre Sierra-Tahoe complex, which includes
the Linehan fire and 15 others started by lightning on Sunday and
Monday around Carson City and Reno.
Mopping up also was under way on the 10,000-acre Elburz Fire 10
miles northeast of Elko, while the Sneekee Fire, 35 miles southwest
of Elko, was 70 percent contained at 7,200 acres.
Three consecutive days of temperatures in the 90s, low humidity
and dry lightning eased on Wednesday night as a wet West Coast
system pushed through.
One Type I team with 800 firefighters moved in to battle the
Sierra-Tahoe complex and another team with 600 personnel took
command of the huge Suzie fire on Thursday.
In all, some 140,000 acres of the state have been charred since
lightning began sparking dozens of fires over the weekend. Of the
37 major large fires burning in the United States, nine are in
Nevada, according to the National Fire Information Center.
NDF Regional Forester Tom Turk warned against too much optimism
given a long fire season still ahead.
"With the change in weather that's greatly helping firefighting
efforts, we don't want people to get a false sense of security. Hot
weather and extreme burning conditions are forecast to be back this
weekend," he said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency authorized funding to
cover up to 75 percent of the costs of fighting the fires, Gov.
Kenny Guinn announced on Wednesday.
No injuries have been reported and no structures have burned in
any of Nevada's fires, but there have been a number of close calls,
including fires that threatened homes Monday in Palomino Valley and
Lemmon Valley on the outskirts of Reno.
Fire officials declared the Sage fire fully contained Wednesday
at 20,000 acres northwest of Lovelock in north-central Nevada. But
a new blaze, the North Antelope fire southeast of Midas, was 50
percent contained and had scorched an estimated 5,500 acres.
The Horse Creek Ranch fire and the Covert fire south of
McDermitt were contained at 1,728 and 2,591 acres, respectively.
The 7,700-acre Sherwood fire was 80 percent contained southwest
of Ely in the Grant Range.
About 50 miles north of Las Vegas, fire crews began attacking
the 9,000-acre Vegas Fire to protect desert tortoise habitat. No
structures were nearby.