Douglas County fire consumes 6,600 acres, 19 structures
Firefighters are racing the wind this morning to build a line around Topaz Ranch Estates and Upper Colony Road in Smith Valley as a wildfire continues to burn in the Pine Nut mountains east of Gardnerville.
As of 11 a.m., the fire had consumed 6,600 acres since it started at 1:45 p.m.
Two homes and 17 outbuildings have been destroyed, but no new damage occurred over night, despite winds gusting up to 20 mph.
A preliminary investigation indicates the fire was caused by a private residential open burn that exceeded the regulatory limitations and permit requirements, including the ignition of materials not allowed under the regulations, a press release from Douglas County stated.
Lower winds and higher humidity should help firefighters today, Bureau of Land Management Fire Management Specialist Tim Roide told firefighters on Wednesday morning.
“The weather today will be a little bit cooler, with the winds down and the relative humidity up,” he said. “It will be more breezy than windy by Sierra Front standards. Today is a good day.”
A dozen handcrews are building a line between the flames and homes in the Pine Nut Mountains.
“The terrain is crazy, stupid steep, in there. It’s burning four drainages south of the Burbank fire.”
Firefighters goal is to keep the fire west of homes in Topaz Ranch Estates and from reaching Highway 208 in the Jack Wright Pass area. Of particular concern is the main transmission line that supplies power to thousands of homes in the area, Roide said.
“We had some pretty phenomenal fire behavior for the end of May on Tuesday,” Roide said. “We also had a fair amount of spotting reported yesterday.”
In Smith Valley, firefighters will focus on Rickey Canyon where 25 homes are threatened. Winds on Tuesday night drove flames down the canyon.
Homeowners said firefighters were staging in their front yards. East Fork Fire Marshal Steve Eisele said firefighters had a good line around Topaz Ranch Estates.
He said several helicopters will be working the fire today and Friday.
A Western Great Basin National Type-II incident management team has been requested and is responding to manage the incident. Transition of command is estimated to be accomplished by 6 a.m. on Thursday.
With the Memorial Day weekend coming up, he said visitors should be aware that helicopters will be dipping water out of Topaz Lake.
All highways are open through the area this morning, though motorists should watch out for emergency vehicles along Highway 208 near Topaz Ranch Estates.