Fire season not over yet

The fire season has been relatively light so far in Northern Nevada, but the Burnside fire in Hope Valley last weekend is a reminder that fire danger remains high.

The Burnside fire broke out around 4:06 p.m. Sunday near Pickett's Junction on Highway 88.

The fire was fully contained on Thursday, with mop-up operations continuing on Friday.

The fire was human-caused, but a more precise cause remained under investigation, according to U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Christie Kalkowski.

Although Forest Service officials didn't have exact figures for the number of wildfires and acres burned this summer, Forest Service spokeswoman Cheva Heck described Tahoe's fire season as "very light."

And that is fortunate, Heck said, because fire danger is severe. Forest fuels are in a hazardous state that is "unprecedented," just as the basin enters the driest time of the year, she said.

"We are currently at 'extreme' fire danger conditions, as you can see on our Smokey signs around the basin," Heck said. "Conditions are so severe that if we had a fire danger level higher than extreme, we'd be putting those signs up."

Northern Nevada's light fire season is in contrast to other parts of California, which have been hit this summer by hundreds of lightning-sparked blazes.

One small outbuilding was destroyed during the Burnside fire, and two injuries were reported: an injured back and a twisted knee resulting from rough terrain, according to the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center.

An air tanker that had responded to the Burnside fire crashed, killing all three crew members, as it left the Reno-Stead airport and headed to another California fire Monday evening.

Businesses and homes threatened by the Burnside fire were evacuated Sunday evening, including Sorensen's Resort, Hope Valley Resort, Crystal Springs Campground, Kit Carson Campground and about 20 homes on Douglas Way.

Evacuees were allowed to return the next day.

The Burnside fire didn't caused the closure of any major highway. Forest Service 019 Road to Burnside Lake and Pickett Peak were closed for the duration of the fire and will be re-evaluated after Monday.

Heck reminded the public that the Forest Service's fire restrictions remain in place, noting that illegal campfires have been an ongoing problem.

"Our officers have a zero-tolerance policy for these violations," Heck said.

To learn more about the fire restrictions, see www.fs.fed.us/r5/ltbmu/fire/restrictions.shtml.

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