6,500-acre fire burning south of Markleeville | NevadaAppeal.com

6,500-acre fire burning south of Markleeville

Staff Reports
The highway sign at the California state line along Highway 88 warns motorists that Highway 4 is closed due to fire.
Kurt Hildebrand |

Genoa, Nev. — Five homes and 15 historic cabins are threatened by the 6,500-acre Washington fire burning south of Markleeville in Alpine County.

Firefighters are preparing to defend the historic Alpine County seat after a spot fire started west of Highway 4.

“The entire fire area is under extreme winds,” said Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch spokeswoman Elizabeth Kenna. “The fire is continuing short uphill runs and single tree-group torching.”

All homes and campsites along Highway 4 from Wolf Creek to Ebbett’s Pass have been evacuated. No evacuation center has been established, Kenna said.

South winds are pushing the fire northeast. Highway 89 is closed at the junction with Highway 395 south of the Nevada state line.

The fire has been burning since Friday evening, but was limited in size until Saturday afternoon, when winds caused it to grow from 75 acres to 350 in a matter of hours.

The fire didn’t slow down overnight, almost quadrupling in size, as it crowned and spotted through critically dry heavy timber, Kenna said earlier.

A red flag warning went into effect at noon today for low humidity and gusty winds.

According to the Sierra Front, the fire is burning in steep rocky terrain with numerous downfalls hampering firefighters efforts to bring it under control.

An estimated 325 firefighters are working the blaze, including 10 hand crews, five helicopters and three air tankers are working on the fire, along with 16 engines.

A type II incident command team is taking control of the fire today for safety, tactical and strategic purposes, Kenna said.

Markleeville has already seen 30 mph wind gusts this afternoon.