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Crews battle fast, erratic wildfire near Nevada-California line

May 23, 2012|By Michael Muskal

More than 360 firefighters on Wednesday battled to contain a Nevada wildfire that has burned through nearly 3,500 acres near the border with California, officials said.

The blaze, known as the Topaz Ranch Estates fire, started about 2 p.m. on Tuesday and quickly spread through the rural Topaz Lake area, about 60 miles south of Reno. Fed by cheat grass, sagebrush, pinyon pine and juniper, the fire is roughly north of Nevada Highway 208 and three miles east of U.S. 395.

Two homes and 17 outbuildings have already been destroyed and more than 120 homes are considered in possible jeopardy from the fire, which officials said was behaving erratically because of gusting winds. No injuries have been reported.

The terrain is described as moderately difficult for the ground crews, making air support from tankers and helicopters crucial. There are steep canyons in the area with rocky ground at 6,200 feet to more than 7,500 feet of elevation.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, officials said.

As of Wednesday morning, officials said the fire was about 10% contained, with full containment expected by Saturday evening.

Meanwhile, the Hewlett fire, about 20 miles from Fort Collins, Colo., was listed at 100% contained, though hot spots were still being fought within the fire zone. More than 7,600 acres have been burned since the fire was reported May 14.

In Arizona, officials reported continuing progress against two stubborn fires, down from four earlier this week.

The Gladiator fire near the historic mining town of Crown King was 26% contained, with about 15,600 acres burned, while Arizona’s largest fire, the Sunflower in the Tonto National Forest, was 43% contained with more than 16,000 acres consumed.

Minor blazes of hundreds of acres with no threat to people or structures were reported in New Mexico, Utah and southern Oregon.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com

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