WOODFORDS, Calif. — Firefighters handicapped by winds of up to 15 m.p.h. and 20% humidity struggled Friday to contain a 3,400-acre blaze on the timbered east slope of the Sierra Nevada south of Lake Tahoe.
The battle was nearly won by late Friday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service said.
About 1,200 firefighters had contained 60% of the blaze by midday but found the going slow in the rugged Toiyabe National Forest, said Cece Stewart, a forest service spokeswoman.
"The fire alert is high to extreme so anything could happen at this point," she said. "Some of the trees are torching out--like an explosion where they burst into flame. And there's crowning, when the fire takes to the tree tops."
No injuries were reported, although a 50-year-old schoolhouse in the Alpine County town of Fredericksburg was destroyed along with several ranch outbuildings.
Stewart said the fire--the biggest in the Sierra this year--began Wednesday near Woodfords, about 15 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe and close to the California-Nevada border. Officials have said the fire was "human-caused," but declined to elaborate.
"We're very lucky. Nothing is threatened up there except watershed and there are no campers in the area" as there might have been on a weekend, Stewart said.
Firefighters were aided by 14 engines, four bulldozers, four helicopters, four air tankers, four water tenders and six National Guard trucks.