Reno wildfire burns 2 homes, shuts down I-80

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RENO, Nev. (AP) - An early-season wildfire in Reno burned at
least two homes and temporarily shut down Interstate 80's westbound
lanes, officials said.
An undetermined number of people were evacuated from homes and businesses after the brush fire broke out at about 3 p.m. Saturday
near McCarran Boulevard and Seventh Street.
The fast-moving fire in a ravine burned near a shopping center
that contained a Starbucks, tanning salon and a car wash, the Reno
Gazette-Journal reported.
No injuries were reported.
The extent of damage to the homes could not be immediately
confirmed by officials, but KOLO-TV in Reno reported one home was
destroyed and the other was severely damaged.
The flames were fanned by wind gusts of up to 20 mph and another
day of unseasonably warm weather. Saturday's high of 78 tied Reno's
record high for the date set in 1972.
I-80's westbound lanes were closed for about an hour as flames
came close, police said, and two nearby city streets also were shut
An evacuation center was set up at nearby Grace Warner
Elementary School, said school secretary Teri Rothschild.
"They're making progress on the fire. The smoke is not as
bad," she said Saturday evening. "The people still are not
allowed to go back to their homes, though."
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
About 100 firefighters were battling the blaze, which also
burned fences and outbuildings.
The fire came after a week of unseasonably high temperatures in
Reno. Friday's high of 79 degrees erased the old record of 76 for
the date set in 1916, while Monday's high of 80 degrees snapped the
old record of 75 degrees set in 1888.
Fire officials said they're bracing for an early fire season
because of the above-average temperatures and a below-average
Sierra snowpack. Currrent conditions along the eastern Sierra are
similar to what usually is seen in June, they said.
"As soon as those fuel moistures go down, we know we need to
get our seasonal firefighters back and our air tankers ready for
the start of fire season," California Department of Forestry and
Fire Protection spokeswoman Tina Rose told Truckee's Sierra Sun
"If we don't get rain, we would be looking at a really severe
fire season," she added.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)