Smoldering burn pile ruled the culprit in Washoe Valley fire |

Smoldering burn pile ruled the culprit in Washoe Valley fire

Staff reports

A Washoe Valley fire that threatened several Eastlake Boulevard homes on Tuesday afternoon apparently started from embers that smoldered in a burn pile for days.

According to Washoe County fire investigators, property owners of the Deer Run Ranch Bed and Breakfast in the 5400 block of Eastlake Boulevard had covered a burn pile with dirt after burning brush earlier in the week.

On Tuesday, strong winds from the west uncovered the pile and blew embers into a nearby area of brush about 3:30 p.m., said Reno fire spokesman Steve Frady.

The flames, fanned by winds, quickly burned uphill through rocky terrain and spread over the ridge to the canyon on the east.

Despite the winds driving the blaze, firefighters held the fire at a road in the canyon, preventing spread eastward toward Storey County and protecting homes, Frady said.

According to the National Weather Service, winds in the valley at the time were 26 mph with gusts of up to 40 mph.

About 200 firefighters responded under the unified command of the Reno Fire Department and Bureau of Land Management.

Crews stayed on scene throughout the evening and decreasing winds and snowfall assisted firefighters to snuff hot spots in the interior.

Criticism from some that fire crews near another home there were just standing there and not working to stop the fire is unwarranted, said Frady.

“If there were crews standing there, they were there for structure protection only.

Their vehicles cannot drive on that terrain. What they couldn’t see were the crews already in the canyon,” he said.

“A lot of people don’t understand the tactics – you don’t attack the head of the fire, you attack the flanks.”

“We were able to hold it to 100 acres in those winds.”