Firefighters trying to gain upper hand on Topaz Ranch Estates fire
May 23, 2012
Firefighters are racing the wind this morning to build a line around Topaz
Ranch Estates and Upper Colony Road in Smith Valley as a wild fire continues
to burn in the Pine Nut mountains east of Gardnerville.
The fire has consumed roughly 4,000 acres since it started at 1:45 p.m.
Two homes and 17 outbuildings have been destroyed, but no new damage
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occurred over night, despite winds gusting up to 20 mph.
Lower winds and higher humidity should help firefighters today, Bureau of
Land Management Fire Management Specialist Tim Roide told firefighters on
“The weather today will be a little bit cooler, with the winds down and the
relative humidity up,” he said. “It will be more breezy than windy by Sierra
Front standards. Today is a good day.”
A dozen handcrews are building a line between the flames and homes in the
Pine Nut Mountains. “The terrain is crazy, stupid steep, in there. It’s
burning four drainages south of the Burbank fire.”
Firefighters goal is to keep the fire west of homes in Topaz Ranch Estates
and from reaching Highway 208 in the Jack Wright Pass area. Of particular
concern is the main transmission line that supplies power to thousands of
homes in the area, Roide said.
“We had some pretty phenomenal fire behavior for the end of May on Tuesday,”
Roide said. “We also had a fair amount of spotting reported yesterday.”
In Smith Valley, firefighters will focus on Rickey Canyon where 25 homes
are threatened. Winds on Tuesday night drove flames down the canyon.
Homeowners said firefighters were staging in their front yards.
East Fork Fire Marshal Steve Eisele said firefighters had a good line
around Topaz Ranch Estates.
He said several helicopters will be working the fire today and Friday.
With the Memorial Day weekend coming up, he said visitors should be aware
that helicopters will be dipping water out of Topaz Lake.
All highways are open through the area this morning, though motorists should
watch out for emergency vehicles along Highway 208 near Topaz Ranch Estates.