I-80 Reopens After Closure Due To Wildfire

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More than 130 firefighters battled a fast-moving wildfire that forced the closure of U.S. Interstate 80 in the Sierra for four hours Friday near the California-Nevada state line.

The Nevada and California highway patrols shut down a 30-mile stretch of the interstate in both directions just west of Reno about 3 p.m. and reopened it shortly after 7 p.m.

Firefighting efforts were hampered intially by winds gusting to 20 mph as the fire burned sage brush and timber on steep, rocky hillsides on both sides of the interstate along about a 2-mile stretch near Farad, Calif., about 10 miles southwest of Verdi, Nev.

Fire officials were optimistic they would get the upper hand on the blaze before Saturday morning.

The Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center estimated the fire had burned about 150 acres, dispatch spokeswoman Helen Frazier said Friday evening.

There were no reports of injuries and no structures immediately in danger, she said.

Five hand crews of 20 members each and 15 engines were fighting the fire aided by at least one airtanker and one helicopter, she said.

"We feel confident we are going to be able to take care of it ... when things cool down and we get favorable wind shifts," Forest Service spokeswoman Kathy Murphy said.

The fire, first estimated at about 35 acres, quickly grew in the winds.

"That is how the fire got so big so fast," she told KOLO-TV in Reno.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, Murphy said.


On the Net:

Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center: www.sierrafront.net