Crews continue to make progress, Linehan fire 90 percent contained | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Crews continue to make progress, Linehan fire 90 percent contained

F.T. Norton

CARSON CITY – Crews were halfway to containing 16 lightning-started wildfires that burned between Bordertown and Silver Springs and charred nearly 11,000 acres of land.

The Linehan fire straddling Carson City and Mound House that began Monday is 90 percent contained at 5,863 acres, said Fire information officer Karla Norris.

“Tomorrow crews will be rehabbing dozer lines so we don’t have to worry about flooding, and continuing to mop up,” she said. On Thursday, crews improved existing firelines, mopped up within some sections of each fire, and began assessing what it will take to rehabilitate the fire zone.

On Monday, lightning struck twice in a five-mile radius between Mound House and Silver City, igniting mountaintops ripe with fuel from the wet winter. The Linehan and Flat fires grew into one blaze, which, along with ornery winds, kept crews scrambling between Carson and Mound House for at least two days.

Wednesday afternoon the skies opened up and dropped about two inches of rain on the fire zone.

“Right now the complex is looking really good,” said Lisa Ortega, spokeswoman for the Great Basin/ Rocky Mountain Type I team. “Crews are out there fighting hot spots and we’re starting to get some people home.”

Ortega said some of the firefighters will respond to Winnemucca, where the Poito Fire is burning at more than 5,000 acres in the Poito Valley. The cause of that fire was unavailable.

The Great Basin/Rocky Mountain team is now most concerned with the Virginia fire, 80 percent contained at 3,200 acres, southwest of Fernley, and the difficult-to-reach Balls Canyon fire near Bordertown, which has reached 1,809 acres and is still burning.

Norris said other fires in the 215 square miles under the Great Basin command are the Olinhouse fire in Stagecoach, the Palomino Valley fire in northeast Reno, the Oregon fire north of Lemmon Valley and the Payson fires north of Spanish Springs Peak.

The Iron Mountain, Copper Canyon and Radio Towers fires have been extinguished, she said.

Scott Gahagen, a disc jockey who was in his Linehan Road home when the fires began, said he didn’t expect Monday’s lightning storm to bring such angst.

“The first thing I heard was a huge thunder and just a wind like I’ve never felt before – one big gust of wind that almost knocked me down,” he recalled.

Gahagen said he immediately saw the Flats blaze.

“So I was watching that fire and I thought it was a getting a little closer. When I looked up, I saw the other fire and I thought ‘Oh my God, there’s a fire behind us too.'”

Gahagen and his new bride, Terry, thought they were being proactive when they decided to run one of their three vehicles down to Highway 50 East and come back for their two shitzus and clothing. But once he reached the highway, a trooper prevented him from going back, he said.

He called Terry and told her not to drive out, to go back and get Socrates and Plato.

“I was really concerned for her. I could see the flames were really beginning to sort of envelope and circle the top of the hill so I just told her to grab the dogs and go,” he said.

The foursome stayed on Highway 50 watching the activity until the road was opened. They rented a room in Carson.

Wednesday morning they made their way home and found everything was OK.

“The firefighters did a tremendous job of not losing any structures, especially as dynamic as the fire was,” Gahagen said. “I have nothing but praise for them.”


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