Nick Coltrain

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June 20, 2012
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With summer fun comes fire danger

As if on cue, the official first day of summer appears to be the warmest in the near future, according to the National Weather Service.

Tony Fuentes, a meteorologist with NWS, said temperatures should hit the low 90s today and Thursday - about five to seven degrees above normal - before a low pressure center slips into northwest Nevada this weekend and into early next week.

He said that system will push temperatures about in line with seasonal norms for the region, with highs in high 70s to low 80s through early next week.

While temperatures won't quite be scorching, Monday marked the start of the Bureau of Land Management's fire restrictions for Western Nevada. The restrictions ban non-stove fires outside of developed fee campgrounds and picnics, smoking outside an enclosed vehicle or developed campground and other activities that can cause fires.

Carson City Fire Chief Stacey Giomi also asked people to use "common sense" with fire safety.

"Be smart about barbecues," he said. "Don't use fireworks. They'reillegal."

He echoed the BLM's warning of not having fires in the wildlands at all and asked residents to call 911 if they see anything that looks out of the ordinary. He also encouraged those taking guns out for shooting practice to go to the range instead of the desert or canyons, especially if using cheaper target rounds or tracers.

"We actually have one or two fires every year from tracers or ricochet rounds," Giomi said.

The mild winter and lack of spring precipitation has caused numerous wildfires across the west already this year. Currently more than 10 major fires are burning across seven states.

In Colorado, firefighters are making progress on a 92-square-mile wildfire that has destroyed more homes than any other in state history, but more residents were warned Tuesday to be ready to leave because of a spot fire that ignited near the main fire.

The large blaze west of Fort Collins was 50 percent contained after firefighters labored in temperatures in the 90s to extend lines around the fire Monday. Cooler temperatures were expected Wednesday, with a chance of isolated thunderstorms Thursday.

The fire already has destroyed at least 189 homes since it was sparked by lightning June 9. Incident commander Bill Hahnenberg said it could be weeks or even months before it's finally controlled.

Other fires currently burning:

• A 10,000-acre wildfire north of Ely was 15 percent contained. Aerial mapping showed the fire was smaller than thought.

• In Idaho, a fast-moving wildfire near Mountain Home destroyed six homes and several outbuildings Monday evening. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Mallory Eils said 25 to 30 homes in the area were evacuated before firefighters got the blaze under control. The fire burned about 150 acres. Its cause was unknown.

• In Wyoming, more experienced fire managers and crews took over the fight against a wildfire burning in a rough, mountainous area of the Medicine Bow National Forest. The fire has burned about four square miles since Sunday. About 40 residents of the area's scattered ranches and cabins have been advised to evacuate. There was no containment of the fire as of Tuesday afternoon, and its cause remained under investigation.

• In New Mexico, firefighters were taking advantage of favorable weather conditions to battle a wildfire that has destroyed 242 homes and businesses. More than 1,100 firefighters remained in Ruidoso as they fight to hold the Little Bear Fire that is now 60 percent contained.

A fire in the Gila Wilderness, already the largest in state history, grew another 1,000 acres to 463 square miles and is 80 percent contained.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jun 20, 2012 02:53AM Published Jun 20, 2012 02:52AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.