Lightning sparks blaze, spotters needed |

Lightning sparks blaze, spotters needed

Sierra Sun file photo Volunteers are needed this summer to staff the Martis Peak Fire Lookout three days per week through fire season. No experience is necessary and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection will provide all necessary training. Call CDF Captain Dean Levonian at (530) 582-9471 for more information or to volunteer.

A Lightning-caused wildfire burned hundreds of acres near Verdi, Nev. Wednesday, and the possibility of additional lightning strikes has regional fire managers worried. At press time, the Verdi fire, burning at the base of Peavine Peak north of the Boomtown hotel-casino on Interstate 80, posed no immediate threat to area homes. At the scene, however, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion Chief Doug Rinella said, “We thought we had it corralled, but it took off on us again.”

Rinella, normally stationed at CDF Station 50 in Truckee, estimated that the fire had burned 400-plus acres of sagebrush and scrub pine by 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, with fire crews having contained approximately 40 percent of the blaze at that time.The fire burned to within about 1,000 feet of homes in Verdi just west of Reno at one point and authorities were urging people to stay away from the area. But officials did not order any evacuations.Aircraft dropped retardant on the flames as scores of brush trucks and tankers responded on the ground and local structure engines stood by to protect homes if necessary.

About 200 firefighters were battling the blaze including two engines and seven firefighters from the Truckee CDF station. The smoke from the fire was visible from more than 20 miles away.”They are sending as much equipment as they can,” Forest Service spokeswoman Christie Kalkowski said. “They are hitting it hard with the retardant and it has cooled off significantly so it is looking good right now.”On the scene were two heavy air tankers from the CDF that hold 800 to 1,200 gallons of retardant and two single-engine air tankers form the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center in Minden that hold 800 gallons, she said.

Smoke from the Verdi fire was reported by Rick Baender at the Martis Peak Fire Lookout located near Brockway Summit off of state Route 267. Baender also called in numerous lightning strikes in the area near Stampede Reservoir on Wednesday.The Associated Press contributed to this report

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