Despite flames, crews start fire rehab

RENO, Nev. - As one group of firefighters battled flames on the northeast front of the South Cricket blaze, other crews already had begun the job of repairing damage caused by the flames and by fighting them.

''We have a whole task force assigned to rehabilitation starting with the 'dozer lines and the roads,'' Bureau of Land Management spokesman Bill Roach said on Monday.

''We have a team coming in to start assessing what the fire did, what seed mixtures we need and what we can do about erosion,'' he said by telephone from Wells.

Eight miles to the northeast, the seemingly impossible job of surrounding 65,778 acres of burned and burning grass, sagebrush and pinon-juniper was 60 percent complete, five days after a bolt of lightning hit the dust-dry area.

There have been no serious injuries and the only structural losses appear to be four camp trailers.

Well to the southeast, two buildings on the Hermitage Ranch in Lincoln County were overrun by the 15,500-acre Coyote fire burning in extreme east central Nevada. Crews struggled to build a line around 15 percent of its perimeter as it expanded eastward across the Utah line.

The Phillips Ranch Fire, which was estimated to have burned about 900 acres of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Great Basin National Park in extreme eastern Nevada, also defied containment. A line was cut along 15 percent of its perimeter as well.

The Cottonwood fire southeast of Lovelock was 90 percent contained, down 5 percent from Sunday's figure. Its size now is placed at 5,000 acres.

So far this year, 556 fires have consumed at least 331,000 acres in Nevada compared to last year's record 1.7 million acres. Nationally, more than 3.5 million acres have burned this year.

On the Net:

Western Great Basin Coordinating Center: http://www.nv.blm.gov/2wgbcc

National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov

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