Photo courtesy of KJ Amidon
RENO, NV - The Washoe Drive Fire was apparently started by someone who improperly disposed of fireplace ashes, according to Reno Fire Chief Mike Hernandez, who says the case has been forwarded to the district attorney's office. The elderly man came forward on his own, and his name hasn't been released.
The fire is 65 percent contained and 2000 people have yet to return to their homes, according to Reno fire officials. The size has also been downgraded from 3900 acres to 3177 after aerial mapping.
As of late Friday night, Highway 395 is back open to regular traffic, though police are asking that people not drive through unless they need to, since firefighters and police agencies are still patrolling burned, evacuated neighborhoods in the area. It had been closed since Thursday afternoon from Mt. Rose to Carson City.
Authorities are also investigating one death, that of 93-year-old June Hargis, who died after apparent smoke inhalation.
It is believed 29 homes have been destroyed by the fire, with several more damaged. Firefighters are now concerned about flooding based on expected heavy rain.
The evacuation center at Damonte Ranch High School has been closed; the few remaining people who didn't have family or friends to stay with have been put in hotel rooms by the Red Cross.
Washoe Fire residents from two burn areas were allowed back in to survey their property Friday afternoon via emergency personal for evacuees whose homes have been damaged by fire. If and only if you reside on the following streets and your house has been affected by the fire please call 337-5800 for further information:
•Old Ophir Road
About 100 customers are still without power in the area south of Andrew Lane to Franktown, and south of Washoe Valley. NV Energy crews are working to get the power back up, ideally by Saturday morning. If you are among the affected, please call NV Energy at 834-4100.
Most crews battling the fire are local. Some crews were called in from California, but they got stuck in the Donner Pass due to weather. They had to turn around because of chain controls.
Insurance Commissioner Scott J. Kipper urges residents affected by the Washoe Drive fire to contact the Nevada Division of Insurance (Division) at (888) 872-3234 if they have questions about insurance or need assistance with insurance claims.
Hazards that are generally covered by a home or renter’s insurance policy include fire, wind, smoke or a loss of use. If a resident believes they have a claim, they should review their policy and immediately contact their agent to file and discuss the details of their claim. Those impacted by the high winds and subsequent fire can call (775) 687-0700 or (888) 872-3234 to speak with the Division’s team of insurance professionals if they have a question. A list of the claims hotline numbers for Nevada’s ten largest home insurance carrier groups can be found at http://doi.nv.gov/sinfo/doc/claims_hotline_numbers.pdf.
The Washoe Drive fire impacted normal delivery Friday for some of the mail, according to the U.S. Postal Service. However,most deliveries are expected to made on Saturday.
According to Postal Operations Manager Renee Brown, carriers were out in force Friday, and only a few areas didn't get delivery.
"Tomorrow we expect to make the vast majority of deliveries," she said, “No delivery customer should have to come to the Post Office to retreive mail.”
The only exceptions are those whose homes were damaged. That mail will be held, pending contact with the individual customers.
The mail in affected delivery areas for ZIP Codes 89511 and 89521, which includes Mt. Rose, East Lake, Pleasant Valley, and Old Washoe City areas, will be handled out of the Steamboat Springs Post Office Station, on 75 McCabe Drive.
Affected mail for ZIP Code 89704, the north end of East Lake, will be handled out of the Carson City Post Office, on 1111 S. Roop St.
Delivery will be normal Saturday, barring any road closures or restricted entry areas.