Dense smoke hangs over Truckee Meadows |

Dense smoke hangs over Truckee Meadows

The Associated Press

RENO (AP) – A wildfire burning out of control in California more than 40 miles west of Reno continued to spread its smoky misery across western Nevada on Wednesday.

Forecasters said it could last the rest of the week.

The Star fire some 25 miles west of Lake Tahoe now covers more than 8,000 acres and extreme fire conditions were forcing fire crews to pull back.

Heavy smoke stung eyes and caused problems from the Tahoe-Truckee area to Carson City and the Truckee Meadows. The Truckee-Tahoe Airport required pilots to fly by instrument flight rules due to poor visibility.

Visibility at the Reno airport was 2 miles on Wednesday.

In Reno, Tracie Douglas of the Washoe District Health Department urged people with breathing or other health problems to stay indoors with doors and windows closed and air conditioning on.

At Tahoe-Forest Hospital in Truckee, people were dropping by Tuesday to pick up surgical masks to protect them from smoke, said hospital spokeswoman Teri Smith.

”It’s pretty nasty. It’s just brown – very brown,” Smith told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

A similar situation was reported in Tahoe City.

”The mountains are out there somewhere but you can’t see them,” said Douglas Dale, owner of Wolfdale’s Cuisine and a coach for North Tahoe High School’s football team. ”This is serious.”

On Monday, Dale was forced to halt team practice after players began coughing and complaining of smoky conditions.

”You don’t want to push it when you get to that level,” Dale said.

Smoke conditions in the Reno area improved Tuesday until midafternoon when new clouds of irritating haze descended on the Truckee Meadows.

The smoke hung in hazy pockets early Wednesday, similar to the wintertime fogs that cloak the area.

Prevailing winds are expected to keep smoke from the fire blowing toward the Reno-Tahoe area.

”We’re just hoping the wind will shift but it doesn’t look like it will,” said Terry Ryan of the National Weather Service.

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