Fires break out in wake of storm

A 250-acre fire is reported burning about 1.5 miles northeast of McClellan Peak above the historic town of American Flat southwest of Virginia City.

Named the Delaware fire, for the nearby Delaware Mine, the fire first reported at 6:18 p.m. threatened microwave-broadcast and cell-phone towers on McClellan Peak as well as the power line providing power to the structures. No other structures were threatened as of 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

Goni Road was closed to all but fire vehicles in the sections that crossed public lands west of Silver City .

Crews are battling the fire's uphill runs in an area not easily accessed by vehicles. Air tankers made drops along the front of the fire and slowed it down before returning to base for the night.

Late Thursday night down canyon winds began pushing the fire to the east.

Five airtankers and six engines, two bull dozers and four hand crews attacked the blaze, which is burning in grass and shrubs on Nevada Department of Forestry lands in Storey County.

The Delaware fire is one of several fires started after lightning strikes peppered western Nevada skies as a strong cell of thunderstorms developed in the Sierra south of Topaz on Thursday and traveled north along the Pine Nut Mountains.

Firefighters are also battling a 10-acre blaze one mile east of Indian Creek Reservoir in Alpine County and another in Churchill County.

The Airport fire in Alpine County was spotted at 1:52 p.m., according to Fire Information Officer Mark Struble.

He said the fire is burning in cheatgrass, shrubs and some piƱon pines. Alpine County Airport is closed while firefighting aircraft use it. Some of the eight fire engines on the fire are protecting a ranch near the fire.

In all, 130 firefighters, four air tankers, two helicopters, five handcrews and a water tender are working the fire.

Agencies working the fire include the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management, Alpine County, the Nevada Division of Forestry, the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, the U.S. Forest Service, Stanislaus National Forest and the California Department of Forestry.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

A column of smoke was reported south of Topaz Lake at about 5:25 p.m.

Firefighters also reported several lightning strikes near Sierra Spirit Ranch in the Pine Nut Mountains.

Smokejumpers trying to get to the Alpine Ranch fire in Churchill County were delayed in jumping to the fire due to the thunderstorm.

The fire south of Highway 50 near Cold Springs was reported to have burned 20 acres by 9:15 p.m. The fire burning in grass and shrubs was reported at 3 p.m. BLM Great Basin Smokejumpers, and a BLM Helicopter Task Force based out of Boise responded to that fire.

Three air tankers, one helicopter, two hand crews, one engine, one water tender and 25 personnel were assigned.

The Alpine Ranch fire was 80 percent contained as of 9:15 p.m. with full containment expected tonight.


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