Crews contain largest Nevada fire, gain on others

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Firefighters have surrounded Nevada's largest wildland fire and were making progress Wednesday against scores of other blazes that have blackened about 200,000 acres since last week.

''This seems to be ground zero right now for wildfires,'' Bureau of Land Management fire information officer Mark Struble told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Crews claimed victory over the 82,000-acre Sheep fire 17 miles north of Battle Mountain and turned their attention toward the nearby Coyote fire, which was 25 percent contained at 11,000 acres 25 miles north of Carlin. The cost of battling that fire already is estimated at $1.2 million.

Smoke has filtered the northern Nevada sun since last week when thunderstorms swept across the state, igniting the high desert's tinder-dry grass and brush with lightning bolts.

Areas in north-central and east-central Nevada were hardest hit.

Three fires being called the Clear Creek Complex have scorched 22,760 acres 11 miles south of Winnemucca and continue to thwart crews, who have achieved only 15 percent containment.

The hamlet of Midas remains threatened by the Buffalo complex, which has blackened 47,000 acres near the historic mining town with only 10 percent containment. Trucks and bulldozers have established a firm line around the handful of homes, according to Bureau of Land Management fire information officer Melissa Peterson.

On the California-Nevada line, the Fish fire was expected to be contained by evening at 21,280 acres. It has burned five outbuildings and has cost $2.49 million to conquer.

In Nevada, the Spaulding fire 25 miles northeast of Winnemucca is estimated at 15,000 acres and 15 percent containment.

The 3,500-acre Golden Eagle blaze 60 miles west of Winnemucca is 60 percent contained, the 3,000-acre Starr Valley fire 30 miles northeast of Elko is fully contained and the Ranch fire 50 miles northeast of Winnemucca is contained at 20,000 acres.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, has gone to Level Five status for the first time this year, allowing the military to help with fire suppression. That's the highest alert level.

Twenty-two members of Nevada's Army National Guard were activated to assist with the fires in eastern Nevada, according to spokeswoman Lisa Kent. She said they headed for Elko with a Chinook helicopter with a 2,000-gallon bucket and with 2Y-ton trucks to transport fire crews from base camp to the various blazes, KOLO-TV in Reno reported.

The past week Nevada's burned acreage more than doubled to 373,575 acres so far this year, about half of last year's 700,000-acre total.


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