More than 60 fires burning 45,000 acres
ELKO, Nev. (AP) – Two afternoons of lightning storms have touched off some 60 wildfires across northeast Nevada, leaving nearly 45,000 acres – an area the size of the District of Columbia – on fire or burned.
The largest, the West Pequop complex of three blazes, has blackened 17,000 acres east of Wells near a conservation camp.
The Isolated and Double Mountain fires were burning 14,000 acres in an area 20 miles north of Elko.
An incident management team was battling that group of blazes and a second team was called in for the West Pequop fires. Air tankers and helicopters also headed east from Tuesday’s fires in Reno and Genoa.
”We were overwhelmed yesterday afternoon with all the fires we had,” Gary Zunino of the Nevada Division of Forestry told the Elko Daily Free Press on Thursday.
Fire spokeswoman Melissa Petersen said line crews were fighting afternoon winds and difficult terrain in remote areas as the fires burned erratically.
No homes were immediately threatened, although a new fire broke out just before noon Thursday near a populated area close to South Fork Reservoir.
Billowing clouds of black smoke appeared on the hills southwest of Elko and flames were visible on the horizon.
”We do have a possible structure threat,” Petersen said, so four air tankers and a helicopter were sent along with at least 60 firefighters to hit the fire hard .
She said the size of the fire was estimated at 200 acres and the cause was undetermined.
By midafternoon, firefighters received some help as a light rain fell in the area.
In addition to the two largest groups of fires, crews were called in for the 2,000-acre Bishop fire northeast of Metropolis, the 1,700-acre Neptune fire northeast of Spruce Mountain, the 1,200-acre Metropolis fire, the 3,000-acre Maggie Creek fire and the 1,000-acre Egbert fire.
Elsewhere in Nevada, three fires were burning near Winnemucca – the 1,000-acre Standard fire south of Rye Patch Reservoir, the 500-acre Adelaide fire and the 600-acre Topton Ranch fire. The Independence Mountain fire has burned 500 acres in the Humboldt National Forest south of Elko.
The Dutch John fire has charred 2,500 acres in extreme northern Lincoln County.
Until this week, 331 fires had burned 29,525 acres in all of Nevada this year.
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