Reno Wildfire

Nevada declares emergency over wildfire near Reno

By Riley Snyder | Reuters – 

RENO, Nev (Reuters) – Nevada’s governor declared a state of emergency on Friday over a wildfire raging at the edge of a hilly Reno suburb that has damaged 25 structures, forced 9,500 people from their homes, and was blamed for an elderly man’s death.

The Caughlin Fire in northern Nevada broke out overnight and blackened more than 2,000 acres as it moved through populated areas on the outskirts of the city, said Michele Anderson, spokeswoman for Reno Mayor Bob Cashell.

“The firefighters are battling with extremely high winds right now that are also extremely erratic,” Anderson said, adding that firefighters were focused on protecting homes in the area. Two evacuation centers had been set up.

Hundreds of embers were flying through the air as winds gusted up to 60 miles per hour, carrying the danger of starting spot fires up to a mile away, fire officials said. But by afternoon, a team of 450 firefighters had halted the blaze’s forward advance, the officials told a news conference.

Sixteen people were hospitalized for respiratory or cardiac illnesses, according to theRegional Emergency Medical Services Authority.

A 74-year-old man died after he suffered a heart attack and his car veered off the road as he evacuated his home with his wife, said Kevin Romero, EMS director for Reno’s Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority.

“We’ve been through a lot the past six months,” Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said during a press conference, referring to a string of deadly disasters that has disproportionately affected the northern part of the state.

“This community has once again come together. I’m so proud of how everybody has done this.”


Sandoval requested and received approval for federal assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said in a statement.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been and are being affected by this fire,” Sandoval said on his website.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, acknowledged the fires ravaging his home state on the Senate floor in Washington on Friday, saying his son, Leif, could see the fire from his home.

“Unfortunately strong winds, including 60-mile-per-hour gusts, are working against them. Firefighters are calling the winds a perfect storm,” Reid said. “Winds are so strong, helicopters can’t take off to assist in containing the fire.”

The area in which the fire was burning is very hilly with a lot of dead grass and sage brush, in the immediate vicinity of residential areas.

Air quality readings are elevated and residents are encouraged to stay indoors, Anderson said. Several nearby casinos were offering free rooms for those who lost homes in the blaze, and discounts to anyone evacuated.

The fire is the latest in a string of northern Nevada disasters in recent months. A deadly Amtrak collision 70 miles east of Reno killed six people in June.

Later, a gunman opened fire in a Carson City pancake house in September, killing four people before committing suicide. Then, in the same month, a vintage plane nose-dived near the grand stands at a Reno air race, killing 11 people.