Late Wednesday update: Voltaire Canyon fire at 504 acres, 30 percent containment

This aerial photo provided by the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest shows the Voltaire Fire.

This aerial photo provided by the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest shows the Voltaire Fire.

Strong winds hindered firefighting efforts Wednesday as the Voltaire Fire burned on the west side of Carson City.

By Wednesday evening 504 acres had burned in the canyon located behind the Galaxy movie theater. Officials estimated they had 30 percent contained at that time.

Because the rescue helicopters are unable to fly at night, officials couldn’t get any air support into Carson until Wednesday morning to drop water and retardant onto the fire.

“We just wanted to knock it down as much as we can before the winds start picking back up,” said Fire Chief Sean Slamon said early Wednesday.

The fire started in Voltaire Canyon on Tuesday around 7:30 p.m., after a group of campers attempted to burn their fecal waste in the hills. Within an hour, the fire had burned through several acres.

Voluntary evacuation orders were issued Tuesday night for the Voltaire Canyon area as well as the Carson City Colony as a precaution, however, Wednesday at 4 p.m. those orders were lifted.

Erin Holland, public information officer for the Sierra Front Interagency Management team, said about 200 firefighters were working the fire Wednesday night. She said they would remain until the fire was fully contained.

Holland said terrain and the wind were the biggest challenges facing firefighters. The wind can shift a fire and cause it to reignite very quickly.

Carson City Fire Department had a callback for all of their firefighters and received assistance from numerous agencies around Northern Nevada including Truckee Meadows, Storey County, Central Lyon County, East Fork, Eldorado, Nevada Division of Forestry and more.

“Our crews are very tired, we are working on a rotation right now to put fresh troops on the line,” Slamon said early Wednesday. “Everyone on the fire did a great job last night.”

Slamon said this was the perfect example of the relationships between the local, state and federal agencies and wanted to thank all who responded.

And the community did their support to assist the firefighters where they could.

The Carson City School District opened Carson Middle School to the crews to use as a resting place for those coming off the fire. They utilized the kitchen, classrooms, parking lot and fields to sleep, eat and cool down before returning to the line.

“It is the right thing to do, we love it here and are proud of where we live so when there is the possibility of loss of life or property it is the community thing to do,” said Superintendent Richard Stokes. “We are happy to help.”

He said they were more than willing to help provide some shaded spots so the firefighters could rest both themselves and their equipment out of the sun.

Several other businesses, including the Casino Fandango and Lowe’s donated water to law enforcement and firefighters on scene both Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It has been an outpouring of support for their efforts and that is sincerely appreciated,” said U.S. Forest Service public information officer Marnie Bonesteel.

She said while the organizations greatly appreciate what the community does for them, they also recommend that organizations provide their donations to non-profits or food banks in need in the community.

“Our firefighters are well taken care of with adequate food and water, and it is an extremely kind gesture and very appreciated,” Bonesteel said. “But we will often ask them to donate those supplies to their local food pantry or community center because sometimes the donations can be more than we can handle.”

As of Wednesday, no charges have been filed against the group who set the fire, and Sheriff Ken Furlong suspects none will be brought.

“So far it just looks as if this was an accident,” Furlong said.

Fire crews will remain on scene throughout today to finish mop-up operations in the area. Residents and onlookers should continue to stay out the area as to not interfere with the fire operations and equipment, espciecally on Voltaire Canyon Road, which is currently one lane.

Hollard said smoke from power poles could be seen. She said anyone seeing anything that could be of concern should call 911.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the fire had not impacted the course or schedule for Epic Rides this weekend. Organizer Kurt Meyer said they believe everything will be cleaned up by Friday and they don’t anticipate air quality to be an issue.

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