Wednesday's shower a welcome relief for firefighters

Rain on Wednesday afternoon helped crews establish solid fire lines around the Linehan fire, which for two nights threatened 200 homes. However, officials remained cautious about its overall effect.

"We think this weather will help us tremendously, but it's too early to say what the impact will be. If the sun comes back out, it can dry up and start burning again very quickly," said Karla Norris, Bureau of Land Management public information officer.

Residents living on Linehan Road in Mound House were able to return home shortly after 1 p.m. because of progress made against the fire, according to Capt. Jeff Page, of the Lyon County Sheriff's Department. Fifteen families went to the shelter set up at Dayton High School.

The announcement came just hours after residents of Goni Road in northeast Carson City were allowed back into the area. Officials delayed rescinding the Linehan Road evacuation, fearing hot spots near the road could spark additional fires near homes.

The fire advanced north overnight Tuesday prompting concerns that the fire's reach would extend to Gold Hill and Silver City. Norris said the addition of hand crews and cooperative weather was aiding the battle Wednesday.

Crews worked throughout the day to keep the fire south of East Lake Boulevard, west of Goni Road and to stop its climb up McClellan Peak, Norris said.

"With the rain, our goal now is to get a good line in, identify and stop any hot spots to keep it from flaring up," Norris said.

The National Weather Service is predicting more rain today, accompanied by 15-20 mph wind gusts, prompting concern about the flash flooding in the fire areas.

Aircraft being used on the Linehan fire were grounded during the rain Wednesday, and were then tasked to assist on the Poito fire, 12 miles southwest of Empire, in northwestern Nevada. That fire jumped Highway 441 and was threatening homes Wednesday evening.

With more than 800 personnel fighting 20 fires throughout Northern Nevada, a Great Basin Type I Incident Management Team was called in and took control of all fires on the Sierra Front at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

"The last two days we've been struggling for resources," said Carson City Battalion Chief Dan Shirey. "Considering the fact that everybody was every place else, we all pulled together to make this work."

The 20 fires are being classified as the Sierra-Tahoe Complex and stretch from Boomtown to Pyramid Lake to Silver Springs to Carson City and back up the Sierra Front totaling about 8,000 acres.

Multiple fires within a defined geographical area are categorized as a complex and are defined by their complexity. The steep terrain and complexities of the fires resulted in the Type I team being called in to oversee operations.

The team consists of 63 officials from various federal and state agencies from the western states. A Type I team is called in to handle major incidents or disasters like large fires and hurricanes. A Type I team was activated and took control following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Tuesday also brought an additional 1000 personnel for the Sierra-Tahoe Complex of fires. The Linehan fire received about 60 members in three hand crews.

The hand crews arrived from fires in Arizona, California and Utah. It was also the first day crews from the Nevada Division of Forestry were assigned to the fire. They had been reassigned from other fires in the state.

"The rain is just a very very welcome sight," said Shirey. "And it's nice to have some hand crews."

Following the rain, the hand crews were reassigned to the Virginia fire near Stagecoach.

Crews were also able to get a more accurate measure of the size of the Linehan fire, reducing the estimate of acres consumed to about 4,500.

"When it's burning, it looks like all of it is on fire, but now we can see that even in burned areas there is a lot that wasn't touched," Norris said.

Fire crews assigned to the Linehan fire: Central Lyon County, Storey, Carson City, BLM, Nevada Division of Forestry, Reno Fire, Tahoe/Douglas County, South Lake Tahoe, Donner, Alpine, Truckee, El Dorado and East Fork. Equipment being used: Four water tenders, 10 engines and several dozers.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.


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