Some residents allowed home

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Residents of Upper Swall Meadows were allowed back in their homes Tuesday afternoon a day after being evacuated because of the Birch Creek fire, while residents of Tom's Place were waiting for word on whether they could return.

The Birch Creek fire has charred 2,500 acres of the Inyo National Forest between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop since it was reported at 8:30 a.m. Monday, said Jan Cutts, public information officer for the Inyo National Forest. The fire was 60 percent contained as of 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Birch Creek is located about 160 miles south of Carson City on Highway 395.

The fire forced evacuation of 300 residents Monday night, but thus far has been kept out of reach of 200 nearby homes.

Heavy smoke and water and fire retardant drops being made near the Highway 395 closed the road for a few hours at about 9 p.m. Monday. Rock Creek remains closed, as are campgrounds in the vicinity.

Approximately 1,150 fire personnel are assigned to the fire including 17 crews, 22 Hotshot crews and support personnel.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. As of Tuesday afternoon no injuries or loss were reported.

The Cannon fire, which continues to smolder near Walker, Calif., will likely produce smoke until next fall.

Kathleen Luchich, district ranger for Bridgeport District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, said the fire is still burning in isolated spots.

As of Tuesday there were several crews and several engines still working on the fire, but most of the crews will be gone by Saturday evening, Luchich said.

"We're really toning down at this point. It's getting mighty quiet at the moment. We're concentrating on watershed rehabilitation."

The Cannon fire burned 22,750 acres and into the town of Walker, about 60 miles south of Carson City. Fire costs total $7.8 million and three men died when the air tanker they were in crashed into a field in Walker.

"The community of Walker, all of Antelope Valley, has really been hard hit. It's time for a break," Luchich said.

"There are just enough really tough places that we can't get to them all," Luchich added. "There will likely be smoke coming out of the area for the remainder of the summer. The fire kind of roots around in the duff and stumps and takes off when it wants to."

Luchich said she doesn't believe the fire poses a threat.

"We believe we have good lines in place if something should start up again," she said.

Luchich said no cause for the fire has been determined.

Closer to Carson City, a lightning-cause spot fire burned about one-eighth of an acre of brush in the Virginia City Highlands Tuesday afternoon.

The fire was spotted at 5 p.m. by Virginia City Highlands Volunteer Fire Chief Phil McKenna who saw the strike then the flames, said Rich Richhart a firefighter with the Storey County Fire Department.

Two brush trucks, a water tender, a command vehicle and McKenna were on scene and extinguished the small fire off of Havanah Road in the Highlands about five miles north of Virginia City in Storey County.


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