Carson Wildfire Declared Nearly Contained, Rehab Underway

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As hundreds of firefighters mopped up the last of the embers from a fire that destroyed 15 homes and briefly threatened the governor's mansion, other crews were starting the job of replanting the scorched ground.

"We began at seven this morning," City Manager Linda Ritter told a Sunday gathering of about 50 people - most of whom lived in the area of the fire.

Fire officials said they initially would create artificial terraces to slow runoff this fall, then begin planting grass and brush and finally put in trees. The process was expected to take more than a year.

The fire began early Wednesday and quickly spread to cover 7,566 acres along four miles of a Sierra foothill ridge west of the state capital. Brisk winds sent the flames within one-half mile of the governor's mansion.

At one point, more than 1,900 firefighters were on the lines, aided in an aerial attack by air tankers and helicopters. By Sunday, the fire was more than 85 percent contained and the number of firefighters was edging down to 1,000.

"The danger has passed," said Stacey Giomi, acting Carson City fire chief.

He said full containment could come as early as Monday night.

People who were evacuated from the suburban communities were allowed to return to their homes this weekend.

Some of the homeowners again raised questions on Sunday about the speed of the response to the fire.

Gary Schiff, Carson District ranger for the U.S. Forest Service, said the fire was first reported at about 3 a.m. Wednesday and by 6 a.m., nine crews were on the scene with helicopters and single-engine air tankers responding about an hour later.

He and the other fire bosses agreed that dead vegetation and five years of drought combined to create an extremely combustible environment.

"This fuel is still that volatile," Giomi said. "We could have a fire on the east side of town and it all could happen again."

In response to earlier reports that young people partying in the foothills where the fire started could have sparked it, Sheriff Ken Furlong said he wasn't pointing any fingers.

"I'm not going to stand up here and say it's the kids," he said. "Whether it's young or old, we want the person who started this fire."

So far, it's estimated the cost of fighting the fire has reached $4.1 million. No price tag has been put on the property destroyed, which includes homes in the $1 million range.


On the Net:

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