Western Nevada fire restrictions lifted

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RENO (AP) - Public land managers have lifted fire restrictions in western Nevada, but stress that doesn't mean fire danger has been snuffed out for the season.

Shorter days, cooler temperatures and increasing moisture allowed officials with the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and Nevada Division of Forestry on Friday to lift campfire, smoking and other fire restrictions along the Sierra front.

Still, it appears the region has ducked a fiery bullet for the second summer in a row, fire officials said.

"I'd say we've been very lucky, and it wasn't just us," said Rex McKnight, fire management officer for the BLM in Nevada.

As of Friday, only 32,680 acres had burned in Nevada during the 2009 wildfire season, McKnight said. He had anticipated a season more like 2007, when nearly 900,000 acres in Nevada had burned by this time. That was the same summer the Angora Fire erupted outside South Lake Tahoe, burning 254 homes.

Officials warn, however, that fire danger is not over.

On Thursday, an agricultural burn in Lyon County was whipped out of control by gusty winds. No structures were threatened, but it burned about 600 acres.

Firefighters are hoping to extinguish and mop up the Miller Fire before a cold front approaches the region Monday bringing high winds, said Mike Dondero, fire manager for the Nevada Division of Forestry.

"Removing fire restrictions doesn't mean fire season is over. It just means things have calmed down a little bit," Dondero said. "It's still dry."

This season's largest fires in the Reno-Tahoe area were a pair of blazes sparked in mid-July north of Reno. The Red Rock and Trailer 1 fires burned just under 12,000 acres combined, threatening hundreds of homes but damaging none.

Another large Nevada fire, the 10,670-acre Hoyt Fire in a remote area of Churchill County, claimed the life of a firefighter pilot when his air tanker crashed while battling the blaze in late August.

Fire danger will remain high until the region receives significant rain or snow, officials said.


Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com


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