(Photo : InciWeb)
Firefighters in Nevada just can't catch a break. Wildfires are cropping up all over the state, and one of the most recent blazes, the Bison Fire, has now prompted officials to declare a state of emergency.
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According to the most recent update from InciWeb, the fire was first reported at approximately 3:30 p.m. on July 4 as the result of a lightning strike. It is located about five miles east of Gardnerville, along the western slope of the Pinenut Mountain Range in Douglas County.
As of Tuesday, July 9, the fire has burned more than 25,700 acres of private lands, Native American allotment lands and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands. It's currently at 25 percent containment and officials estimate complete containment by Sunday, July 14.
The Bison Fire is being fueled by timber including pinyon and juniper, as well as sage brush and dried grasses. Although the fire increased in size Tuesday, fire personnel report that they have made significant progress. Additionally, night crews reported progress on Monday evening, though the fire burned actively until about 3:00 a.m. Rapid fire spreading rates have been reported during daylight hours due to high sustained winds and limited humidity recovery overnight. On Monday, the fire nearly doubled in size from the day before.
"There is no comparison [to recent fires in this area]," Fire Information Officer Dorothy Harvey said. "The winds have been erratic. The fire has been erratic ... usually fires [in this area] last two or three days. This one keeps growing."
The fire has significantly expanded over the past two days, mainly to the northeast. It has run through the Slate Mine area, crossed over the crest of the Pinenut Mountain Range and crawled down into the north end of Smith Valley. Officials report that plans are in place to position ground and air resources should the fire continue to move further east and/or north.
The Great Basic Management Type 2 Team operating under Incident Commander Mike Whalen is overseeing the firefighting efforts for this blaze. Several supporting agencies are also lending a hand, including the Story County Fire Department, Central Lyon County Fire Department, Carson City Fire Department, East Fork Fire Department, Reno Fire Department, Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Nevada Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), according to a report from the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center.
Approximately 722 firefighters are assigned to the Bison Fire, with additional crews arriving daily. The resources at their disposal include nine air tankers, five helicopters, 22 hand crews, 30 fire engines, 12 water tenders and four dozers.
According to East Fork Fire Protection District Chief Tod Carlini, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners has declared a State of Emergency for the Bison Fire. This will allow the County to request additional State resources and assistance. Federal assistance may also be made available should the Governor deem a State of Emergency for the State of Nevada.