August 7, 1996 in Nation/World

Western Fires Keep Crews Busy

Compiled From Wire Services

Air tankers, helicopters and gritty crews on the ground waged war Tuesday on a 6,000-acre blaze at Reno’s outskirts. Firefighters in Utah battled 100,000 acres of flames across the west desert.

Those fires and outbreaks in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming sapped the number of available air tankers, helicopters, engines, and pushed firefighters to their limits.

“Utah is taking an awful lot of the hand crews we requested,” fire information officer Stacey Giomi said in Reno.

Nevada’s fire began Monday afternoon near the California line, and the wind-whipped flames exploded to 3,500 acres within three hours. By nightfall, flames in the mountains could clearly be seen from downtown casinos.

“It was the fastest thing I ever saw,” said Spence Bocks, whose home was scorched by the flames. “It was just screaming across the field. … It just kept coming like a train.”

By Tuesday, winds had died down and smoke that had earlier cloaked the city in an orange, eye-stinging pall had diminished to a single huge plume.

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