New fire blows up near Topaz Lake in Sierra |

New fire blows up near Topaz Lake in Sierra

Tom Gardner, The Associated Press

RENO — A dwindling number of fire crews battling a 550-acre blaze in the Sierra were strained further Sunday when a new tower of smoke loomed, threatening the evacuation of a gambling lodge that was a haven for evacuees from an earlier fire.

“It just blew up. It’s sending up a very impressive column of smoke,” fire spokeswoman Sharon Soule said. “We’ll add it to our firefighting efforts in progress.”

She had no estimate of the initial size of the Slinkard fire, which was sparked by lightning on Saturday and was thought to be in hand until winds caused it to flare. California’s Slinkard Valley is just south of Topaz Lake on the Nevada line.

Topaz Lodge, which housed people evacuated from a fire in mid-June, was being considered for evacuation on Sunday.

“We haven’t heard anything official,” Dolores Tomlinson said from the resort. “The casino has thinned out considerably. The road has been closed.”

U.S. 395, which links Nevada and California, was shut down at the state line, as was California 89, after it was jumped by the fire.

Ten miles to the south, crews were working the Gate complex west of Walker and Coleville, Calif., near last month’s 22,750-acre Cannon fire. It was about 20 percent surrounded with full containment expected on Tuesday.

People evacuated from the Cannon fire found refuge at the Topaz Lodge. Ironically, evacuees from Topaz were expected to be housed in Walker.

Farther south, the Pan fire near Bridgeport was 5 percent contained at 250 acres with full containment estimated for Saturday.

There were 211 people on the lines at the Gate complex and 79 on the Pan fire.

“We’re getting stretched thin. Everybody’s getting stretched thin,” fire spokesman Tom Crawford said.

Fewer than 100 people were working Nevada’s largest fire, the 3,500-acre Mud Springs blaze 40 miles northwest of Winnemucca. It was 75 percent surrounded on Sunday.

There was no containment on the second largest blaze, the Ellsworth fire 50 miles southeast of Fallon and eight miles northeast of Gabbs. Dozers were working to establish a line around the 1,500 acres of pinon, juniper and sagebrush in hopes of containing it by Friday.

In the eastern part of the state, the 500-acre Adobe fire three miles north of Elko was 5 percent contained. The Cold Springs fire 20 miles southwest of Lund was 10 percent contained at 650 acres and crews were moving in on the 850-acre Eagle fire 50 miles southeast of Ely. The Belmont fire had burned 250 acres south of Jiggs.

Fires sparked from Saturday’s strikes also broke out Sunday on Geiger Grade south of Reno and near the Pine Nut Mountains east of U.S. 395 south of Carson City.

In the south, residents fled their homes in the Spring Mountains’ Lovell Pass, which burned about 300 acres.

Saturday’s storms also caused weather problems for a second straight day.

Winds in the 60-80 mph range were reported across western Nevada with two trees blown down five miles northwest of Reno and a gust to 84 mph at Virginia Peak eight miles southwest of Nixon. Trees also were blown down southwest of Dayton and Fernley lost power lines.

Rain and small hail caused flash flooding at Topaz Lake and produced a mudslide that closed one mile of Interstate 80 20 miles east of Sparks.

The forecast called for drier weather, less likelihood of thunderstorms and temperatures well below last week’s record low 100s through Wednesday.

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