The Latest: Hot, strong winds fuel Nevada brush fires
Jul. 18, 2017
ELKO, Nev. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires burning in Nevada (all times local):
Wildfire managers in Nevada say extensive growth of cheat grass from a very wet winter, combined with high winds, extremely low humidity and unusually hot weather has created a perfect storm for explosive rangeland fires.
Monday was the first time the high temperature failed to reach 95 degrees or hotter in Reno since June 29. That 17-day stretch fell just two days shy of the all-time record of 19 consecutive days form Aug. 3-21, 1940.
The high in Reno topped out at 94 Monday and surpassed 90 early Tuesday afternoon — the 33rd day in a row it's been 90 or higher. That's also two shy of the record 35 straight days of at least 90 degrees set in July and August of 2005, and tied in 2008 and 2010.
The most predominant fuel has been cheat grass, an invasive weed that crowds out native plants, including sagebrush.
Bureau of Land Management spokesman Greg Deimel (DIGH-muhl) said from Elko on Tuesday it's very thick and dense. He says when the winds fan flames through the brush, "the fire just goes."
An evacuation advisory has been lifted in western Nevada for a tribal community threatened by a wildfire burning north of Reno.
Residents of Sutcliffe were returning to their homes Tuesday on the edge of Pyramid Lake about 35 miles northeast of Reno. State Route 445 also has been reopened.
About 900 firefighters remain on the lines of the wind-driven blaze that has burned 130 square miles of grass, sagebrush and scrubby pines since it broke out last Tuesday just west of the California-Nevada line.
The Southern California Interagency incident management team in charge of the fire estimates it now is 40 percent contained.
The team reported Tuesday forward progression of the flames was held overnight and the situation "looks much better today." However it says strong winds and very low humidity are expected again Tuesday afternoon and could cause fire behavior to intensify.
The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for the entire northern half of Nevada through 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Residents of two northeast Nevada communities are being allowed to return to their homes to assess damage from a raging wildfire that destroyed multiple residences in Elko County.
Authorities estimate at least 14 homes were damaged or destroyed by the fire that broke out northeast of Elko Monday and shut down a stretch of Interstate 80 for several hours.
No serious injuries have been reported.
Elko County canceled a civil emergency and lifted evacuation orders Tuesday for the town of Osino and the Whiterock area straddling the interstate about 90 miles west of the Utah line. I-80 traffic is moving unrestricted in both directions.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says more than 500 homes were threatened at one time. An evacuation center has been set up at Elko High School and local ranchers are helping house displaced livestock in the area.
(Eds: This item has been updated to correct an earlier version that erroneously reported the affected area is about 90 miles east of the Utah line. It is about 90 miles west of the Utah line).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved federal funds to help battle a northeast Nevada wildfire that has damaged or destroyed at least a dozen homes near Elko.
FEMA officials says more than 500 homes were threatened at one time after the fire broke out Monday afternoon and shut down Interstate 80 for several hours between Elko and Wells about 90 miles west of the Utah line.
Nevada Department of Transportation spokeswoman Meg Ragonese said Tuesday traffic is moving unrestricted in both directions. But she says the situation is fluid and could change.
The fire has burned more than 11 square miles of brush and rangeland north and east of Elko. It's believed to be human caused because there was no lightning in the area.
The homes that burned are in the communities of Whiterock and Osino. They remain under an evacuation order.
The state applied for the federal assistance within hours of when the blaze was reported. It will allow the state to be reimbursed for up to 75 percent of the firefighting costs.
A wildfire that sparked Monday afternoon in northern Nevada has destroyed multiple homes, prompting evacuation orders near Elko.
The Elko County sheriff's office tells the Elko Daily Free Press (http://bit.ly/2uvWPaP ) the fire damaged or destroyed at least a dozen homes in the White Rock area. Authorities ordered residents in Kittridge Canyon and Osino to evacuate their homes.
The newspaper reports the blaze had expanded to 7,400 acres by Monday night. The fire began north of Interstate 80, but winds pushed it eastward across the freeway, forcing its closure between Elko and Wells for several hours.
A gym at Elko High School has been set up as a shelter.
Firefighters will continue to face tough conditions Tuesday, as high winds, high temperatures and low humidity are expected in the area.