RENO, NV - Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez says the closure of a southwest Reno fire station didn't contribute to the spread of Friday's fire.
"It was an erratic fire, and whether that station was staffed or not would not have made an impact on the total outcome of the fire," he said.
Station 7 on Skyline Boulevard was browned out Friday because of budget cuts, and so didn't have firefighters on duty when dispatch started receiving calls about the Caughlin fire. But Hernandez says other fire stations were able to send teams within two minutes. He also says wind picked up embers and spread them so quickly, it would have been very difficult for any firefighters, no matter how close they were, to jump on the flames quickly enough to prevent flames from spreading. Wind was blowing about 80 miles an hour when the fire broke out.
He says the cause of the fire hasn't been fully determined, but he has ruled out homeless campers or teen partiers. The ATF is helping with the investigation, which is focused mostly on arcing power lines in the area.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, Reno Police Chief Steve Pitts joined Hernandez to talk about what happened after the fire. He says at least three affected homes were burglarized, and there were two reports of suspicious people in the area.
Almost 2,000 acres were burned in the fire that was fully contained by Sunday night. More than two dozen houses were destroyed, and one person died of an apparent heart attack while trying to leave the area after the fire started. Several other people were treated for smoke inhalation and other respiratory problems.