Containment expected within five days
Appeal Staff Writer
Full containment of the Linehan fire, which began Monday afternoon and has threatened hundreds of homes, is not expected for another four to five days, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management official said Tuesday afternoon.
But that’s all dependent on the weather. Down drafts from a thunderstorm Monday evening directed the flames toward northeast Carson City. If winds kick up, fire officials worry that the blaze will spread. Some on Linehan Road were starting to see the wind pick up.
By 4 p.m. Tuesday the fire had made a turn for the worse, said Paul Wilson, manager of the Art Wilson Co. gypsum mine off Linehan Road.
“About half an hour ago the winds came up and started whipping the fire back up again at the very end of Linehan Road,” he said, calling from his cell phone near the entrance of the mine.
This kind of wind caused the fire to flare up on Monday.
“What created the dramatic fire behavior was the powerful downdrafts in the thunder storm,” said BLM incident commander Greg Marfil.
The winds would’ve pushed heavy air tankers to the ground, which is why they weren’t used early on to fight the blaze, he said.
Firefighting efforts on the 6,000-acre blaze are complicated by the steep terrain and low valleys combined with wind conditions.
Two single-engine air tankers and a helicopter equipped with a bucket were pulled off the Linehan fire and sent to fight the Balls fire in Lassen County, Calif., said Karla Norris, BLM public information officer. When the Linehan fire flared up again, two air tankers were sent back. They focused on the western slope, nearest to Carson City, and then moved to the northeast slope, near Gold Hill and Silver City.
“We were a little concerned, but now I am confident that the western side is knocked down and that we’ll get the eastern side under control very quickly,” Norris said.
The Nevada Army National Guard Chinook helicopter and other aircraft continued to fight the Linehan blaze, which has burned in Carson City, Lyon and Storey counties.
“We’ve had plenty of aircraft and engines,” Marfil said Tuesday afternoon at the command center set up at Carson High School. “We’ve had hand crews coming in, which is one thing we didn’t have Monday.”
He said the hand crews were coming from fires in Arizona, California and Utah.
Despite calmer weather Tuesday afternoon, Marfil said he was still not comfortable with sending all of the evacuated residents back to their homes.
“The areas most at risk are structures along Linehan Road, though we have a lot of resources there,” he said. “Homes on north Goni Road are also at risk.”
He said residents were asked to stay out of homes there because wildfires could still spark. In case that happens, the road must also be kept clear of traffic for engines. There are several hot spots by Linehan Road.
“We’re hoping people can get back in their homes (today),” Marfil said.
The worst-case scenario for the 300 firefighters working on the blaze would be for the wind to pick up. The fire reached to just below McClellan Peak by Tuesday.
Fire crews assigned to the Linehan fire: Central Lyon County, Storey, Carson City, BLM, Nevada Division of Forestry, Reno Fire, Tahoe/Douglas County, South Lake Tahoe, Donner, Alpine, Truckee, El Dorado and East Fork. Equipment being used: five water tenders, four brush engines, nine type three and one engines and four dozers.
“Help us help you,” Marfil said. “We need defensible space. We’re not going to kill people to save a house. Every firefighter deserves to go home at the end of the day.”
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.