Nevada's First Big Wildfire Controlled

Wildfire the 2003 Season
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Nevada's first big wildfire of the season was controlled Thursday as firefighters mopped up hot spots and tried to determine exact cause of the blaze that sent tall plumes of dark smoke over the capital city.

The 1,180-acre blaze broke out Tuesday in the Sierra foothills, temporarily closing the Spooner Summit section of U.S. 50 between Carson City and Lake Tahoe and threatening about 100 homes and businesses before nearly 300 firefighters stopped it.

There were no reports of property damage or injuries, although the wind-whipped fire forced the evacuation of nearly 150 high school juniors and adults attending a Nevada Girls State conference at a youth center near the mountain highway.

Kelly Martin, fire management officer for the U.S. Forest
Service, said both the Forest Service and the Nevada Division of Forestry were investigating the fire, which erupted right off U.S. 50.

While the blaze was definitely human-caused, Martin said investigators may not be able to determine whether it was accidentally started by a tossed cigarette or mechanical equipment or was arson.

Flames were knocked down by late Tuesday. But hot spots - and potential for the fire to resume - remained on Wednesday and about 100 firefighters continued working in the area. The fire crew total was cut to about 55 on Thursday.

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(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)