New Sierra Fire Forces Evacuation Of Marine Housing

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Another wildfire broke out Monday along the eastern Sierra Nevada and prompted the evacuation of a Marine Corps housing unit.

Fire information officer Franklin Pemberton said the fast-moving, 350-acre fire also shut down U.S. 395 in the Coleville area, about 70 miles south of Reno, Nev.

Officials were unsure how many people were affected by the evacuation order imposed late Monday afternoon. The housing unit north of Coleville is used by the U.S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Pickel Meadows near Sonora Pass.

An evacuation order was lifted for residents in nearby Coleville, the boyhood home of Gen. John Abizaid, head of Central Command.

Monday's blaze erupted near where about 400 firefighters were battling a 2,100-acre wildfire touched off by lightning Friday. Before firefighters got the upper hand, officials had been concerned over the weekend that it might threaten Marine housing. It's now 45 percent contained.

The latest fire started just behind the Marine housing and quickly burned to U.S. 395 before spreading to the south and north, Pemberton said.

"The winds were pretty erratic and that's what fanned this thing," Pemberton said. "The good thing is existing resources were on the other fire and they shifted them to the new fire."

Firefighters were hopeful after completing a successful "burnout" to provide a buffer between the fire and Marine housing, he said.

"I would say the housing is looking better, but it doesn't look great yet," Pemberton said. "The nice thing is the winds are starting to die down."

The cause of the latest blaze is under investigation and might include a burning ember from the earlier fire or a new round of lightning storms that rolled through the area.

Two much smaller, earlier wildfires in the same area were fully contained.

A meeting set for Monday night at Coleville High School to update residents about the status of the earlier fire was canceled because of a power outage.