Numbers firefighters face hot, dry winds this weekend | RecordCourier.com
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Numbers firefighters face hot, dry winds this weekend

A sign along Highway 395 thanks firefighters for their work on the Numbers Fire.
Kurt Hildebrand

Firefighters have a line around 40 percent of the 18,300-acre Numbers Fire burning in the Pine Nut Mountains.

Fire officials hope to have the fire contained by Tuesday, but hot, dry weather over the next two days might pose an obstacle.

“Increased westerly winds are anticipated today with gusts up to 30 mph near the fire,” officials said this morning.

The National Weather Service cancelled a fire weather watch for today, but there is one in effect 1-9 p.m. Sunday with southwest winds of 15-25 mph and gusts of up to 35 mph. Humidity is expected to drop to 4-12 percent increasing chances for ignition. There’s a possibility the fire weather watch will be upgraded to a red flag warning later today.

“Conditions remain hot and dry, which means potential for fire activity remains high for any existing embers or new fire starts,” fire officials said.

Much of the success in stopping the Numbers Fire has been due to the large number of aircraft deployed to fight the fire, whose cost hit $3.6 million on Saturday.

Seven helicopters provided an average of 30 hours of water bucket drops and moved food and supplies to hand crews in rough terrain.

With the fire camp at the Douglas County Fairgrounds and the Douglas County Model Airplane field within sight of one another, firefighters are asking hobbyists to stay clear of the area with both model airplanes and drones.

Residents can expect to see increased fire traffic in areas during the morning and evening hours and are asked to avoid Pinenut 2 and Blossom Canyon roads unless they live there.

The toll taken by the fire remains three homes and 37 outbuildings, though other federal sources are saying 43 structures were lost.

Officials acknowledge that Douglas County is still assessing the damage and that the numbers could be updated.

The fire’s cause is the subject of significant speculation. Fire officials are asking anyone traveling Highway 395 between Riverview and Holbrook Junction 6:30-7 p.m. Monday and saw something suspicious to email at 2020firetips@gmail.com

Fueling the speculation, in part, is the arrest of a man for allegedly setting fires at Lake Tahoe on Sunday. That person was in federal custody in Sacramento when the five reported fires along Highway 395 were reported on Monday. Passers-by helped extinguish three small spot fires near Holbrook Junction around 6 a.m. Monday. The Numbers fire and another blaze started within a half-mile of one another 13 hours later around 7 p.m.

A thrown brake shoe was reported to be the cause of the 5-acre Jake’s Fire, which burned at the top of Jake’s Hill on July 2.

The Numbers Fire is the second big Douglas fire so far this season. The 2,500-acre Monarch Fire was set by a lightning strike near Sierra Spirit Ranch on June 24. The Numbers Fire not only dwarfed the Monarch Fire, named after the Monarch Mine, but burned right over the site on its way to the Pine Nut ridge.