Kurt Hildebrand

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May 23, 2012
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19 structures reported destroyed in TRE fire

Firefighters are estimating they will have a line around the 3,420-acre Topaz Ranch Estates fire by Saturday.

Nineteen structures, including at least two homes, along Sandstone and Slate roads in Topaz Ranch Estates were destroyed by a wildfire that blasted through the western part of the southern Douglas County community on Tuesday afternoon. As of 9 p.m. the fire was 10 percent contained.

Highway 208 was reopened to normal traffic, and Douglas County deputies are patrolling the neighborhoods as firefighters use bulldozers to cut lines between the fire and homes. Highway 395 is open at Holbrook Junction.

The fire is currently burning in a northeasterly direction in the hills behind the Topaz Ranch Estates residential area, according to Douglas County Sheriff's Sgt. Jim Halsey. Fire crews are using bulldozers and hand crews to cut a fire break between the fire and the homes in the area along Sandstone Drive.

About 450 firefighters from all over the Sierra Front are battling the blaze, led by the East Fork Fire District, Tahoe-Douglas Fire Department, Bureau of Land Management, Nevada Division of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, Carson City, Lyon County, Mono County, Alpine County, and Reno-Truckee Fire.

Halsey said the initial investigation indicates the fire may have been caused by a controlled burn from a previous day that was extinguished, but somehow rekindled.

A score of brush engines, 13 hand crews consisting of 20-25 firefighters each, nine type-1 engines, and four bulldozers are working on the fire.

"Due to the volatile nature of the fire, voluntary evacuations of residents have been requested," Halsey said. A temporary evacuation shelter has been established at the Topaz Ranch Estates Community Center at the end of Carter Drive in the Topaz Ranch Estates residential area.

Douglas County Sheriff's Deputies and Search and Rescue Members are available to assist with resident evacuations if needed. Persons needing this type of assistance should call Douglas County Emergency Operations Center at 775-782-5126.

Douglas County Sheriff's Office Mounted Posse Members are on scene to assist with large animal evacuations, and Douglas County Animal Control is available for small animal evacuations. Persons needing this type of assistance should call the local American Red Cross at 775-856-1000 and units will be dispatched.

Halsey said boaters should stay out of the way of helicopter-borne firefighting crews are obtaining water for their air drops from Topaz Lake.

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The Record Courier Updated May 23, 2012 10:52AM Published May 23, 2012 12:26AM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.