August 13, 2006 in Nation/World

Firefighters report progress on blaze by Reno subdivision

Martin Griffith Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

A tanker drops fire retardant on the north side of Peavine Peak where the Verdi fire continued to burn Saturday near Reno, Nev. The fire narrowly missed a subdivision in the Sierra foothills.
(Full-size photo)

RENO, Nev. – A wildfire that had threatened an upscale subdivision in the Sierra foothills just west of Reno was 70 percent contained Saturday, officials said.

Calmer winds and an all-out air attack allowed crews to gain ground after the fire initially threatened about 50 homes in the Somersett development. No houses had been damaged, but flames came within 100 feet of some homes Friday.

The fire that had dashed across more than 9 square miles was expected to be fully contained by tonight. It was largely burning on U.S. Forest Service land but edged across Reno city lines.

“Basically, we hammered it with air drops all this morning,” fire information officer Kirk Frosdick said.

“It also helped that the winds were a little bit lighter today.”

The blaze damaged a barn, fences and utility poles, he said.

Gusts up to 25 mph fanned flames quickly after the brush fire broke out Friday afternoon near the small community of Verdi just east of the California line. About 800 homes are in the area.

Five air tankers and three helicopters assisted about 400 firefighters on the ground.

Somersett resident Barbara Howard packed belongings in her sport utility vehicle after flames came perilously close to her house.

“I’m just trying to figure out what to take out of the house,” she told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It’s very frightening.”

There was no lightning Friday in the area, and the cause of the fire remained under investigation. Some residents reported seeing campers near the fire’s origin.

In Idaho, heavy four-engine military tankers and smaller single-engine planes ferried fire repellant from the Boise Airport to blazes across the region.

Thirteen large fires were burning in Idaho, the most of any state in the West, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Although no evacuations were ordered, concerns persisted that the fires could threaten homes, ranches and cabins that dot the remote countryside.

“Homeowners are calling me, and saying, ‘I can see this big glow,’ ” said Jessica Gardetto, a Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman in Boise.

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