At least 850 acres of sagebrush and scrub pines had burned in
the biggest of four fires at the base of Peavine Peak north of
Interstate 80, Forest Service officials said.
The fire, called the Verdi complex, crept up to subdivisions
close to Verdi near the California-Nevada line, but no evacuations
Subdivision resident Mark Tepper said his wife telephoned to say
the flames were right behind their house.
"We started loading up clothing and all my tools and stuff in
case I had to rebuild," he said.
Smoke blanketed the Reno area and drifted as far south as Carson
City, 30 miles away.
Aircraft dropped retardant on the flames as scores of fire
trucks and tankers responded on the ground. Other fire engines
stood by to protect homes.
About 200 firefighters from state, local and federal agencies
were battling the blazes with more crews en route from Boise,
Idaho; Salt Lake City and Elko.
"They are sending as much equipment as they can," Forest
Service spokeswoman Christie Kalkowski said.
The fire came within several hundred yards of about 50 homes but
never posed any immediate danger to the structures, she said.
"It is a really slow, creeping fire," Kalkowski said.
Officials said a fire that had threatened the subdivisions was
20 percent contained at 400 acres. A second one on Peavine
continued to burn vigorously after blackening 450 acres.
"We're going to try to hold it, but I don't know if we'll be
able to," said Mike Dondero, fire management officer for
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. "It's touch and go right now."
The larger fire was burning in rugged terrain and heavier fuel.
On the scene were two heavy air tankers from the California
Division of Forestry that hold 800 to 1,200 gallons of retardant
and two single-engine air tankers from the Sierra Front Interagency
Dispatch Center in Minden that hold 800 gallons.
Lightning strikes touched off a handful of smaller fires from
Reno to Carson City.
Meanwhile, crews were mopping up the 3,100-acre Cole complex
near Coleville, Calif.
The largest of the fires around Coleville was sparked by
lightning Friday. A smaller one began Monday when embers from a
cooking fire blew into nearby brush. That fire threatened a Marine
Corps housing compound and closed U.S. 395 for almost a day.