One-acre fire at American Flat sparked by tunnel construction |

One-acre fire at American Flat sparked by tunnel construction

Staff report

Contractors working to stabilize the V&T Railway’s tunnel No. 2 in Lyon County sparked a fire Tuesday afternoon that scorched about an acre.

Gary Luce, a senior engineer with Geocon Consultants said Wednesday that contractors with Hardrock Tunnel Contractors sparked the fire while they were cutting steel to stabilize the historic train tunnel for further exploration.

State officials want to turn this public hazard into a historic spot along the Virginia & Truckee Railway right-of-way, where they will run a $420,000 steam locomotive between Carson City and Virginia City. The $40 million reconstruction project is expected to be completed by 2009 and open to tourists in 2010.

The fire spread quickly over cheat grass and sagebrush, Luce said. The Silver City Volunteer Fire and Storey County Fire departments responded and quelled the flames in about an hour.

The fire spread from the west-facing portal of the tunnel up the hill to the northeast.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Luce said. “The winds were blowing pretty good, but everyone responded quickly so it didn’t become a huge disaster.”