Lightning sparks fires on west edge of Reno

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Lightning touched off a series of wildfires across hundreds of acres on the edge of Reno Wednesday, sending up large plumes of smoke just west of the city but posing no immediate threat to homes.

At least 350 acres of sagebrush and scrub pines had burned in the biggest fire Wednesday afternoon at the base of Peavine Peak north of Boomtown hotel-casino on U.S. Interstate 80, Forest Service officials said.

The fire burned to within about 1,000 feet of homes in Verdi just west of Reno at one point and authorities were urging people to stay away from the area so they didn't hamper fire crews but no evacuations were ordered.

"There were quite a number of lightning strikes. We can see the flames from our pro shop," said Dan Rohn, an assistant at Northgate Golf Club on the northwest side of Reno.

"There's a lot of smoke but it's probably about 8 miles or so away," he told The Associated Press at 1:30 p.m.

Aircraft dropped retardant on the flames as scores of brush trucks and tankers responded on the ground and local structure engines stood by to protect homes if necessary.

About 200 firefighters were battling the blaze. The smoke was visible from more than 20 miles away.

"They are sending as much equipment as they can," Forest Service spokeswoman Christie Kalkowski said.

The fire smoldered within 1,000 feet of about 40 or 50 homes but never posed any immediate damage to the structures, she said.

"It is a really slow, creeping fire," Kalkowski said.

"They are hitting it hard with the retardant and it has cooled off significantly so it is looking good right now," she said.

"Up at the top ridges, they have some active flames. But down on the lower part toward the homes it is pretty much going out. It is running out of fuel," she said.

On the scene were two heavy air tankers from the California Division of Forestry that hold 800 to 1,200 gallons of retardant and two single-engine air tankers form the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center in Minden that hold 800 gallons, she said.


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