RENO — Bone-dry conditions and gusty winds fueled a series of large wildfires across northern Nevada on Sunday, including a 69,000-acre blaze that closed a railroad line and threatened a stretch of the historic California Trail north of Battle Mountain.
Temperatures in the 90s and humidity readings in single digits hampered the more than 1,500 firefighters working Nevada fire lines from border to border. Winds measured 25 to 30 mph in some places.
"When you get the very low humidity down to 7[%] or 8%, even the green, live vegetation burns," said Mark Struble, Bureau of Land Management fire officer.
More than 100,000 acres have burned since Wednesday in Nevada's seven largest fires.
The biggest danger to homes is along the California-Nevada border, where a 12,000-acre fire in the Sierra 10 miles east of Doyle, Calif., threatens 25 residences.
Afternoon winds dropped off to about 15 mph and none of the 25 homes was in harm's way later Sunday, interagency fire spokesman Kirk Frosdick said from Doyle, about 40 miles northwest of Reno.
"I think a lot of people are feeling better. We're getting really lucky," he said.
The Sheep fire 25 miles north of Battle Mountain, named after the bighorn sheep that call the rugged high desert area home, nearly doubled in size to 69,000 acres Sunday as winds up to 30 mph kept changing directions.
"It's quite a windstorm. It's just swirling all over the darn place," interagency fire spokesman Nick Zufelt said.
More than 400 firefighters were on the scene, but they need more help, he said. The fire was estimated to be only 10% contained with full containment nowhere in sight, Zufelt said.
In California, the Observation fire has burned 30,000 acres east of Ravendale, about 30 miles northeast of Susanville.