Crews battling wind-driven fires | NevadaAppeal.com

Crews battling wind-driven fires

The Associated Press
Motorists pass through a checkpoint on state route 157 returning to their homes in Kyle Canyon, Wednesday, July 17, 2013, near Las Vegas. Residents are heading back to mountain hamlets once threatened by a massive wildfire which began July 1, on Mount Charleston northwest of Las Vegas. Police were operating checkpoints for more than 400 people due to return to the Old Town, Rainbow and Echo communities in Kyle Canyon. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
AP | AP

RENO — A fire spokeswoman reported 15 percent containment Thursday on separate wildfires burning parched rangeland in northeastern Nevada, but said officials were worried about shifting winds pushing fires toward populated areas.

No new injuries were reported and no structures were threatened by either the Wieland Fire that has charred about 4 square miles of grass and overgrown sage northeast of Elko, or the Cattle Guard Fire covering nearly 4.7 square miles near Owyhee and Mountain City, federal Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Lesli Ellis-Wouters said.

“They both had the same problems with erratic winds. They’re very active and wind-driven,” Ellis-Wouters said of the blazes which were each sparked by lightning this week.

The National Weather Service issued a forecast for smoky conditions in the area.

Nearly 170 firefighters, backed by helicopters and fixed-wing tankers were battling the Wieland Fire about 8 miles south of Tuscarora, a mining town that Ellis-Wouters said was home to fewer than 100 people. No evacuations were ordered.

The fire burned beneath power lines supplying a nearby mine and crept near the Ruby Pipeline, which carries natural gas from Wyoming to Oregon. But Ellis-Wouters said the pipeline wasn’t damaged and electric service to the mine was rerouted.

One firefighter was treated at an Elko hospital for a heat-related injury and released Wednesday.

Temperatures were expected to be in the 80s on Thursday, and Ellis-Wouters said that if winds changed, the fire could threaten the town or nearby Rhoads ranch.

To the north, more personnel and air support were expected Thursday to join the 77 people trying to contain the Cattle Guard Fire on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation.

Ellis-Wouters said the fire there had the potential to burn north toward Owyhee or south toward Mountain City.

Firefighters quelled at least two small fires and continued to work to contain a 40-acre blaze that flared after lightning strikes overnight southeast of Wells, Ellis-Wouters said. No structures were threatened and no injuries were reported.

In southern Nevada, firefighters reported 90 percent containment of the Carpenter 1 Fire, which was started by lightning and covered some 43.6 square miles on Mount Charleston northwest of Las Vegas.

The number of firefighters was pared to fewer than 600, and officials reported no new injuries or property damage. The cost of containing the fire climbed to more than $18 million.

The last of more than 500 residents who had been evacuated continued to return home to hamlets in the Kyle Canyon area, following their neighbors into the Lovell, Trout and Lee canyon areas.

With a chance of thunderstorms predicted during the weekend, officials issued a new warning about the possibility of flash flooding, mudslides and debris falls in burned areas.

They said Spring Mountains National Recreation Area hiking trails and picnic grounds in Kyle Canyon remained closed to the public.