Fire, winds and weather sweep the region

Sunflowers wave in the wind under ominous storm clouds near the Nevada State Railroad Museum Friday afternoon.

Sunflowers wave in the wind under ominous storm clouds near the Nevada State Railroad Museum Friday afternoon.

Dayton residents sweltered through a power outage Friday night as firefighters battled a lightning-caused fire in the Pine Nut Mountains east of Carson City.

The 10-acre Bull Run fire was one of 26 that began in the midst of a thunder and lightning storm that swept through the Sierra from Bridgeport north to Doyle, Calif., east past Sparks and west past Verdi.

Gary Aldax, spokesman for Sierra Pacific Power Co., said about 1,000 to 1,500 Sierra Pacific customers were without power starting at 3:40 p.m. Friday after six power poles snapped off in high winds. The poles are located between Dayton and Stagecoach. According to a Sierra Pacific spokesman, power was still out for those customers late Friday night and expected to be back on late this morning.

He said crews were working through the night to get power back on.

The power outage wasn't believed to be related to fires in the area, other than all were being blamed on stormy weather.

Tom Crawford, fire information officer for the Interagency Dispatch Center in Minden, said "we've had 26 new starts since noon when we first started counting."

Crawford said Northern Nevada residents can expect more of the same today and Sunday.

"There's no moisture to speak of associated with (the storm) and we anticipate no significant moisture until after the weekend. We're concerned about what Saturday and Sunday may bring with expected additional dry lighting storms."

The Bull Run fire, called in about 2:30 p.m., was about 5 miles east of Carson City at the top of Sullivan Canyon above Eldorado Canyon on the Lyon County line.

"I actually saw the lightning strike at 2 p.m.," said Incident Commander Scott Johnson of the Carson City Bureau of Land Management. "I got on the scene about 2:30 or 2:45. All the trucks were out patrolling because of the lighting," he said from the edge of the fire.

A helicopter was dumping water on the fire and the Silver State Hot Shots along with three engines were battling the blaze on the ground.

According to Johnson a bulldozer sent to help got lost on its way to the fire.

"I don't know where it is now," he said. The bulldozer was parked on Sedge Road off Deer Run at 7 p.m.

Carson City Fire Department units were staged nearby and shuttled water to Bureau of Land Management engines working the fire.

The size of the fire was unclear.

"It's 15-20 acres," said Johnson. "Airtac (a spotter plane) is calling it 5 acres but I think it's bigger."

Silver State Hot Shots Superintendent Nate Gogna thought it was smaller. "Five acres," said. "Or if you ask me, 4-1/2."

At 6:30 p.m. Johnson said the fire was almost totally contained.

"We're real close to containment," he said. "I haven't called it in or anything but we're pretty much there."

With fires throughout the region, Crawford said "I imagine all units are spread thin right now. The fires are still small, but with the winds we're putting resources on them as quickly as possible."

To battle the storm the U.S. Forest Service has placed its firefighters on the highest alert for fire dangers in the Sierra Nevada.

The so-called "red flag warning" has been put in effect in the face of the threat of lightning storms through the weekend.

"The conditions are right for another fire," said Mike Dondero, fire and aviation chief for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

In fact, he says a record heat wave combined with already dry conditions, lightning and high winds is a recipe for disaster.


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