Monday update: Bison fire at 12,500 acres, as it burns into Smith Valley |

Monday update: Bison fire at 12,500 acres, as it burns into Smith Valley

Kurt Hildebrand
Smoke and flame from the Bison fire burning in the Pine Nuts.
Sierra Front Interageny Dispatch Photo | Sierra Front Interageny Dispatch

The Bison fire continues to grow, hitting 12,500 acres, as afternoon winds started to pickup today, and firefighters focused on the fire’s eastern flank.

At last report the fire was at 12,500 acres, and burning in heavy pine. Smith Valley residents reported being able to see flames and smoke on Sunday night as the fire drove north almost eight miles, crossing Sunrise Pass Road.

The fire then turned back uphill when winds died down burning up the south side of Mt. Como in the Pine Nuts. The fire claimed several old structures in the Slater Mine area.

“We watched the fire last night from our house as it burned through Sunrise Pass and near to Artesia Lake, well into Smith Valley,” Smith Valley resident David Williams said in an e-mail on Monday morning. “The fire was certainly burning aggressively last night. Had there been any wind shift to the north we would have been seriously impacted.”

Lyon County Manager Jeff Page said that the fire is burning several miles north of homes and businesses.

“The Smith Valley schools are being used as a base camp,” he said. “If evacuation is necessary we will utilize sheriffs office resources and our City Watch telephone system.”

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

The winds drove the fire north almost eight miles on Sunday, through the Pine Valley, and to Mt. Como.

As of 12:33 p.m., winds at Fish Springs were blowing west by northwest, but were still light, with gusts of up to 16 mph. Winds at Wellington are light out of the southeast, gusting to 13 mph.

Winds are expected to pick up to 10-15 mph, gusting to 30 mph and shift back to the southwest by 2 p.m. today.

The date for containment has been set back until July 14 as the fire continues to burn northeast under afternoon winds, spokeswoman Elayne Briggs said this morning.

“Crews on the west side have been able to fortify the line that was built the last couple of days,” Briggs said.

Pine Nut Road at Out-R-Way is open to residents only.

Nine air tankers, eight helicopters, 13 hand crews and 18 engines are fighting the fire.

The fire has burned along 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.