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Firefighters hope for reprieve

by Merrie Leininger, Staff writer

Firefighters are hoping for a few days’ reprieve from the recent rash of lightning storms that have kept them busy.

Deputy Fire Chief Steve Eisele said a couple of severe thunderstorm cells moved into the Carson Valley starting about at 3 p.m. Thursday. Lightning first hit a patch of dry brush near the top of Kingsbury and started a fire that eventually spread to about two acres, Eisele said.

Rain did not reach the area for about an hour, so firefighters from the Nevada Division of Forestry, Tahoe-Douglas Fire District and the U.S. Forest Service hiked up the ridge and an NDF helicopter dumped water on it.

“It struck outside of the moisture area, so it burned pretty good, but they used a helicopter and got a handle on it,” Eisele said.

While they were on that fire, another severe storm moved in and the firefighters just escaped injury when a bolt of lightning struck the ground about 30-40 feet way from them.

Little information was available on the condition of a 19-year-old Carson Valley man who was struck by lightning about 7:30 p.m. He was taken from Minden Medical Center and a spokesperson from the hospital refused to release his name, but said he was in stable condition, and sent to Carson-Tahoe Hospital in Carson City.

“These thunderstorms have had a lot of lightning activity. It is pretty dangerous conditions, especially up in the hills. There have been a lot of down strikes, and people need to be aware and cautious of it,” Eisele said.

Paramedics also responded to a head-on collision near the intersection of Foothill and Muller lanes about 6 p.m. Thursday. According to paramedic acting shift captain Jeff Costa, five patients were transported. Two were taken to Carson Valley Medical Center in Gardnerville and three others were taken to Carson-Tahoe. All had minor to moderate injuries, Costa said. The Nevada Highway Patrol could not be reached for further information.

Firefighters moved onto another lightning-strike fire about 30-40 feet up the mountain side above John Ascuaga’s ranch in Jacks Valley at about 4 p.m.

The fire was relatively small, Eisele said, but inaccessible by vehicle, so NDF hand crews hiked to the fire and a helicopter dumped water on it.

About 6 p.m., a small fire started in the Pine Nut Mountains, near Bluebird Road. Fire crews from Fish Springs, Ruhenstroth and BLM extinguished the fire.

Eisele praised the volunteers’ work during the hectic week.

“They’ve been really responsive, especially considering the multiple calls we’ve had every evening,” he said. “I hope we can get a couple days of reprieve so everybody can get a rest and catch their breath.”

Eisele said concern now is a smoldering fire will spring to life if things do dry up.

“There’s one that’s out there just sleeping and waiting. The concern is we’ve got a possible sleeper – a fire burning in a tree trunk that when everything heats up and dries out and we get winds, it will take off. Hopefully, we got enough rain to take care of those. But a little dry weather for a day or two would be nice because everyone in Northern Nevada is out chasing fires today,” he said.

n Coleville fire. East Fork firefighters did not respond to what is being called the Golden Fire. The fire started Tuesday about two miles southwest of Coleville, about half a mile from Highway 395.

The Sierra Front Wildfire Management team set up a command post at the high school and attacked the fire with 283 firefighters, 16 engines, a helicopter, four water-tenders and five bulldozers.

Information from Sierra Front Friday morning was that the 2,000-acre fire was almost fully contained, although 25 residences, two businesses, plus historical mining sites and fish habitat were still threatened.

The rain Thursday helped slow the fire. However, the steep, rocky terrain is giving firefighters problems.