Prescribed fire burns out of control in Sierra |

Prescribed fire burns out of control in Sierra


RENO (AP) – A controlled burn the Forest Service lit to reduce fuel loads in the Sierra Nevada was burning out of control Thursday through 50 to 100 acres of national forest 30 miles northwest of Reno.

Fifty to 60 firefighters and a helicopter were battling the flames, which jumped the controlled boundaries in unexpectedly strong winds in the Tahoe National Forest about 11 miles southeast of Loyalton, Calif.

No structures were immediately threatened by the fire, but the blaze was expected to continue into Friday with no projection of when it would be contained, Forest Service spokesman Michael Baldrica said.

”The winds unexpectedly kicked up in a way we hadn’t anticipated and the controlled burn got away,” Baldrica said from Sierraville, Calif.

”It was sometime between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. that they realized things were getting really bad,” he said.

Additional Chinook helicopters with 2,000-gallon water buckets were on standby in Stead, Nev., north of Reno and air tankers were being considered if necessary to help fight the fire on Friday, he said.

The prescribed burn began Wednesday. It was to cover about 50 acres. But by Thursday evening it had burned another 50 to 100 acres outside the controlled area, he said.

It was burning north of the Stampede Reservoir, from east to west toward an area where the Cottonwood fire burned nearly 47,000 acres in 1994. The rugged, mountainous area is about 20 miles north of Truckee, Calif.

In addition to the high winds, a record heat wave blanketed the area over the past few days. Record high temperatures of 88 degrees and 87 degrees were recorded in Reno on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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