Pine Nut fire county’s second largest
As many as 1,000 homes were threatened by Douglas County’s second largest fire in history as the 18,000-acre Numbers Fire blazed across the Pine Nuts this week.
One home and 10 structures were reported lost in the fire and Highway 395 remained closed to allow firefighters to work. As of Wednesday morning, firefighters reported having a line around 5 percent of the fire.
Highway 395 re-opened Wednesday mid-day after the Nevada Department of Transportation replaced a mile of guardrail burned in the fire.
Evacuation alerts were issued for much of the nearby communities, including Pine View Estates, Bodie Flat, Ruhenstroth and eastern Fish Springs.
“I can’t get those guys through, my whole road is shut down with fire,” a first responder could be heard saying over the scanner.
East Fork Battalion Chief Scott Fraser, who was incident commander, told dispatchers he didn’t care how far they had to go to find help to fight the fire.
By 10 p.m. Monday, Fraser said the fire was at a critical rate of spread with 50-70-foot flame lengths. He predicted it would grow thousands of acres before it was done.
Douglas County deputies and members of the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue went door to door to notify residents of the fire, while Douglas County issued Reverse 911 calls to much of the region.
The staff of China Spring Youth Camp watched the fire with an eye to evacuating its 30-some occupants on Monday night, asking for a bus to help transport them, but a shift in the wind sent flames the other way.
On Tuesday, District Judge Tod Young took a moment before court to thanks firefighters and the camp’s staff.
“The director and supervisors, and other camp staff, behaved in an absolutely incredible fashion to protect the children living at China Spring,” he said.
On the north end of the fire, shelter for pregnant women, City of Refuge, was evacuated along with eastern Fish Springs beyond Out-R-Way.
Even in the midst of the emergency, the coronavirus raised its head, prompting officials to rule out using the Douglas County Community and Senior Center for a evacuation center. Instead they coordinated with the Carson Valley Inn and Holiday Inn Express in Minden to provide accommodations for evacuees.
Animals, including around 100 falcons from a Fish Springs breeder, were evacuated to the Douglas County Fairgrounds or the Animal Shelter
While the Pine Nuts were a wall of flames on Monday night, by Tuesday night observers could make out individual flare-ups as the winds pushed the fire up the mountain.
By Tuesday evening, estimates on the fire’s size grew to 18,000 acres, passing the 1984 Indian Creek Fire and growing to challenge the 2013 Bison Fire, which burned 24,136 acres.
The fire started 7 p.m. Monday along Highway 395 above Pine View Estates, where embers were reported showering down on homes by the end of the evening.
With dark approaching and air resources elsewhere, East Fork firefighters sought help from across the Sierra Front.
NV Energy cut power to 600 area homes and businesses so firefighters could work without worrying about catching a live wire.
Even as firefighters were racing to the fire, people with cell phones and cameras were spreading out in the hills around the blaze.
A Dresslerville resident said people were speeding past her home on their way through to either flee the fire or watch it.
The fire was one of five reported along Highway 395 on Monday, with three small spot fires near Holbrook Junction around 6 a.m. Monday and a second fire reported a half-mile south from where the Numbers fire started shortly afterwards.
The California Highway Patrol reported that Nevada authorities were looking for a vehicle that might be dragging something causing sparks.