The Silver State Hot Shots mopped up a fire at Rickey Canyon in Smith Valley Thursday that burned 30-plus acres.
Two men working on an underground electrical fence ” an invisible dog fence ” said they dropped a soldering torch at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The flames fanned and moved westward up the hillside.
“We fought the hell out of this,” said 25-year-old Devin Saams, of Reno. “It was about 15 minutes before the fire department got here, but it felt like 50 years.”
Sierra Front dispatch personnel said the fire was man-caused but remains under investigation.
The hillside behind the home on Upper Colony Road was speckled with sagebrush and tall grasses. The flames moved up the canyon.
Sierra Front air tankers and helicopters dropped loads of retardant and water on the blaze while crews from Douglas and Lyon counties, Silver State Hotshots and agency fire crews worked on the ground. There was no number of how many firefighters were on the blaze. No injuries had been reported.
The two men working on the fence said they immediately began to put out the fire.
“Some other guys came to help us throw dirt and water on it, and it just kept going the other way,” said Josh Carson, 24. “I was worried about the propane tanks and we kept it away from the house. Luckily for us, the wind was blowing the other way.”
Two propane tanks are located next to the home along with a dog run and a plastic greenhouse. The fire burned within 5 feet of the tanks.
The men said they had talked about the high grasses near where they were working, and even used a shovel to clear the area before they began to work.
“I remember saying, ‘Wow, it’s kind of scary that there hasn’t been a fire around here,'” said Saams.
Both said they called emergency services as the fire got out of control.
Neighbor Louise Sorensen said, “I always look up the hill to see Craig and Shawn’s house, and I saw this black smoke.”
She said she called Craig and Shawn Uhland’s home, and then Craig’s cellular phone and asked if he had been burning something.
Sorensen said, “I told him, ‘You got some major black smoke and fire.’ It was definitely taking off.”
She said she called emergency services, and then left the house.
Sierra Front officials said that the crews would be stationed at the scene through the night.
As for the men who started the fire, Saams said, “This taught me a lesson though, when we first got here, I mentioned it to Josh and said I was scared that the owners didn’t have a fire line behind his house, with all the dead brush. I feel kind of bad with all the fires we’ve been having in this state.
“I’m just glad that no one lives behind them. I just thank God it’s going to be OK,” he said.
R-C photographer Belinda Grant contributed to this report.