County declares fire emergency |

County declares fire emergency

Kurt Hildebrand
Shannon Litz / The Record-Courier

The cost to fight the 25,733-acre Bison fire was at $2.9 million on Tuesday, as Douglas County commissioners declared a state of emergency.

The fire burned actively on the northeast and southeast sides until about 3 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch. Despite the fire’s growing another 4,000 acres overnight, crews managed to keep containment at 25 percent. Firefighters hope to have the blaze contained by Sunday.

According to Geomac fire mapping, the fire burned down into Smith Valley on Monday night, stopping at the base of the Pine Nuts south west of Artesia Lake. It also continued to burn in the Buckeye Creek watershed on the south end of Pine Nut Valley. The northern most flank of the fire burned another mile north along the east slope of the Pine Nuts on both sides of Sunrise Pass Road. The fire is now three miles south of the Douglas County line, and is four miles due east of Mineral Peak.

The fire, which more than doubled in size on Monday, also saw an increase in resources with 722 firefighters comprising 22 hand crews, 30 engines and five helicopters, in addition to nine air tankers. About 200 firefighters have been stationed in Smith Valley to fight the fire on the Pine Nuts eastern slope.

The fire is crowning and spotting in heavy pinon pine and juniper as the wind pushes it north, officials said.

Firefighters may have the best weather they’re going to see for a while to suppress the fire today before a low pressure system is forecast to arrive on the West Coast on Thursday bringing even windier conditions.

The fire has been burning since lightning sparked it at 3:30 p.m. July 4. No homes have been reported destroyed, but the fire destroyed some structures in the area of the old Slater Mine, according to the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch. The only reported injury occurred when one firefighter twisted a knee Sunday .

Douglas County commissioners declared a state of emergency Monday, qualifying the county for additional state resources, said East Fork Fire Chief Tod Carlini. Should Gov. Brian Sandoval declare a state emergency, it would qualify the county for federal funds.

Sandoval was briefed about the fire on Monday, as was the director of the Department of Emergency Management.

Smoke and ash from the Bison fire prompted officials to warn Smith Valley, Mason Valley and Yerington residents with respiratory problems to stay indoors.

“People with respiratory problems are urged to stay indoors until the smoke and ash clear,” Lyon County Manager Jeff Page warned. “If you are experiencing respiratory distress, you are urged to seek medical help. If you know of someone that has respiratory problems, you are urged to check on them until the smoke and ash clear.”

Firefighters have established a camp in Smith Valley for resources working the eastern flank of the fire.

The fire has burned a 12-mile stretch of the Pine Nuts from Mt. Como in the north to the Ruby Hill Mine in the south.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.