GARDNERVILLE - Investigators have been unable to determine the cause of a small but smoky brush fire that closed Kingsbury Grade briefly Thursday afternoon.
Rich Riolo, prevention captain with the Nevada Division of Forestry, said Friday he located the origin and concluded the blaze was definitely human-caused, but couldn't say how.
Riolo said he found shell casings at the site, but couldn't connect the two. The area was littered with casings and is apparently a popular target shooting site.
"With the humidity, it's hard to believe that it would have started from the casings," said Riolo. "It doesn't make sense that it was deliberate because the person would have had to run downhill, in front of the fire. But it was man-caused, no doubt."
Firefighters from the Tahoe-Douglas and East Fork fire districts and the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Nevada Division of Forestry contained the blaze within an hour after it was reported around 2:30 p.m.
The fire started just below Kingsbury Grade about a mile east of Daggett Summit. Tahoe-Douglas Fire Chief Tim Smith said winds gusting to an estimated 30 mph could have turned the fire into a major conflagration, but crews managed to keep it at half an acre. The fire started in heavy brush, but no buildings were threatened.
"(The quick response) really saved it," said Riolo. "I was surprised that they kept it as small as they did."
Kingsbury Grade was closed while the fire was brought under control. The road reopened to traffic by 4 p.m.