Nevada wildfire spreads, destroys 2 homes
HOLBROOK JUNCTION, Nev. (AP) — A fast-moving wildfire erupted in a rural neighborhood near the Nevada-California line and destroyed two homes but no injuries have been reported and the danger from what one frightened resident described as a "wall of fire" was subsiding.
Between 100 and 200 homes were threatened at one time on Tuesday in the Topaz Ranch Estates about 50 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe after the fire broke out about 1:45 p.m. — possibly after a controlled burn conducted on residential land rekindled in winds gusting up to 40 mph, authorities said.
Authorities had earlier stated that at least seven homes had burned.
Douglas County Sheriff's Sgt. Jim Halsey said no homes were in immediate danger as of 9:45 p.m. Tuesday. But officials recommended that as many as 40 homes voluntarily evacuate as a precaution.
"Luckily the fire is kind of moving back up into the hills away from homes but the wind shifts around here and could move back down," Halsey said after the fire had burned more than 5 square miles of mostly sage brush and juniper.
Three air tankers and three helicopters were assisting about 450 firefighters battling the blaze, which sent up huge plumes of smoke and had burned an estimated 4,400 acres by Tuesday night.
Winds were steady throughout Tuesday, gusting throughout the day across the region that has seen very little moisture all winter, leaving vegetation dry and extremely flammable.
Halsey said the fire had burned less than 10 acres when crews arrived on the scene but "with that wind it just took off and was growing like gangbusters."
"It shot across the valley real fast," said Diana Richardson, 69. The disabled woman said she and her husband were "just sitting here minding our own business" when they first noticed flames halfway up a hill near their house in Topaz Ranch Estates. "It was scary."
Gov. Brian Sandoval said he has not declared a state of emergency but has asked for federal assistance grants for fire victims.
"We'll do whatever it takes," he said during an evening briefing at the fire command post in southern Douglas County. "We're throwing everything we have at this."