Firefighters hope to wrap up Truckee fire by Friday

TRUCKEE - Firefighters still at the scene of the Donner Fire that burned along the slope between Interstate 80 and Tahoe Donner subdivision this week have been busy extinguishing flare-ups.

The 100-acre blaze was contained by 6 p.m. Monday, and crews hope to finish mop-up by Friday.

The fire began Saturday around 1:45 p.m. near the Vista Point overlook on I-80 and burned uphill toward Tahoe Donner.

At its peak, about 350 firefighters were working the fire, which investigators believe started as an abandoned illegal campfire.

"We have a very good mutual-aid program up here. Because we have so many small fire departments, we're used to working together throughout the year on all types of incidents," said California Department of Forestry Battalion Chief Doug Rinella.

Visible from I-80, the fire burned up a steep slope containing an abundance of fuel until reaching the fuel break built around Tahoe Donner. No home evacuations were called for, though some residents were prepared to leave.

A total of 10 hand crews, more than 15 fire engines, three water tenders and a bulldozer worked on the ground to contain the fire. Seven fixed-wing air tankers and five helicopters dumped water and fire retardant on it.

Approximately 75 firefighters worked through Saturday night to keep the fire from spreading, and by 7 a.m. Sunday morning, crews had it 50 percent contained.

Winds out of the southwest coupled with the steep terrain in the area made controlling the fire difficult for ground crews.

Costs of the firefighting effort are estimated to be about $350,000, according to Rinella, with $140,000 of that the cost of the aircraft.

The fire also damaged two Sierra Pacific Power Co. transmission lines in the area, creating a temporary power outage. A Sierra Pacific spokesman said it will take several weeks to repair the damaged lines, estimating the repair will cost $250,000.


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