Wildfire threatens Hope Valley

Jonah M. Kessel / Nevada Appeal News ServiceA fire crew member stops in front of a burning tree in the Burnside fire at Hope Valley, Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008. Several Hope Valley businesses and homes are being threatened by the 100-acre fire along Blue Lakes Road about a mile south of Highway 88 in Alpine County south of Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Jonah M. Kessel / Nevada Appeal News ServiceA fire crew member stops in front of a burning tree in the Burnside fire at Hope Valley, Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008. Several Hope Valley businesses and homes are being threatened by the 100-acre fire along Blue Lakes Road about a mile south of Highway 88 in Alpine County south of Lake Tahoe, Calif.

As day turned to night, fire crews battled a fast-moving wildfire that broke out Sunday afternoon in Alpine County south of Carson City and forced the evacuation of Labor Day campers and resort guests in the area.

The Burnside fire had burned an estimated 125 acres and was 5 percent contained, as of 9:40 p.m. Sunday.

The wildland fire was reported about 4 p.m. on Burnside Lake Road in Alpine County.

Fire information officer Mark Struble said Sunday that the blaze was crowning in the treetops, spotting to the east ahead of the main fire, and making runs in heavy timber that threatened Sorenson's and other Hope Valley resorts.

Besides Sorenson's and Hope Valley, structures were also threatened at Crystal Springs Campground, Kit Carson Campground, Hope Valley Campground and some residences.

The Alpine County Sheriff's Office evacuated those areas Sunday evening. An evacuation center was set up at the Diamond Valley School, located a half mile east of highways 88 and 89 off Diamond Valley Road.

There were no highway closures as of press time. Forest Service roads to Burnside Lake and Pickett's Peak were closed, officials said. Blue Lakes Road remains open.

"The fire is 100 acres and growing. It is showing intensive fire behavior because of these winds," Leona Allen, public information officer for Lake Valley Fire Protection District, said Sunday afternoon. Allen, a former South Lake Tahoe dispatcher who lost her home last year in the Angora fire, is assisting the U.S. Forest Service with public information regarding Burnside fire.

The area was under a Red Flag Warning through Sunday evening because of high westerly winds from the passage of a cold front and very low relative humidity. No lightning had been reported.

Officials said the fire was suspicious in nature and an investigator had been sent to look into the fire's origin.

Firefighters from around the region responded, including crews from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Lake Valley Fire Protection District, Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District, and Alpine County.

Two air tankers, one helicopters, one water tender and six hand crews with 183 personnel battled the fire Sunday in an all-out attack. Ground crews took up much of the fight overnight.

- Martin Griffith of the Associated Press and Kurt Hildebrand from the Record-Courier contributed to this report.

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