Wildfire to Be Contained

Wildfire the 2003 Season
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Nevada and California forestry crews are expected to have a wildfire, burning west of Gold Ranch, controlled.

On Monday, there was a good sign, drivers along the Interstate 80 corridor near the California state line couldn't see much smoke today.

The wind has been pushing the smoke to the north.

That's both good and bad news as, if any hot spots flare up tonight, they would move away from traffic. But, the fire would then be burning in steeper terrain, making it more difficult to fight.

Hand crews spent the day walking the fire line. The blaze had been burning at a 45-degree grade in very rocky, steep terrain.

During mop-up of some of the hot spots, there were some close calls with boulders coming off the mountain. "There's been near misses but we're communicating well. Someone yells rock or we watch out for one another," said Capt. Scott Stephenson of the Nevada Department of Forestry.

One firefighter suffered minor injuries from a falling rock, but is expected to be okay.

The biggest safety concern is holding the fire in check and keeping other rocks and debris from falling onto the road.

Firefighters have the wildfire 90-percent contained. "We're doing well because of the high pressure now - not getting real strong winds during a normal weather pattern, " said Doug Rinella of the California Department of Forestry.

The fire reached 15 acres overnight. Investigators don't expect it to get any bigger. There's been little if any wind to the northeast.

No structures are in the immediate path of the wildfire and the California Highway Patrol has re-opened all lanes of Interstate 80, both eastbound and westbound.

Where the fire burned the blackest is about 10 feet from the highway. That's where investigators believe it started. Preliminary reports show the fire was most likely ignited from the exhaust of a car on Interstate 80.

Firefighters say during these very dry, hot conditions, it's extremely important to maintain your car at all times. "Whether you're towing a vehicle or shifting. keep your equipment in top shape, it's important to do that on all highways," Rinella said.

Forestry officials are expecting a very busy fire season. They were prepared for this one, despite a wet April and May. But, they can always use the public's help and awareness so nobody gets hurt and no homes are lost this year.

Again, the fire is expected to be controlled by tonight.

Authorities want drivers to be cautious when travelling on Interstate 80 near the Nevada/California border. They say many people are slowing down and watching hand crews work. Additionally there's construction and heavy equipment in the area and they would hate for that to lead to an accident.

Sometimes slowing down isn't safe.

Stay with KOLO News Channel 8 for continuing coverage of the 2003 wildfire season.