Two air tankers and a helicopter successfully snuffed out a fire Friday on Highway 50 a quarter mile west of Highway 395.
When the first crews arrived at 4:33 p.m., they estimated an acre of cheatgrass and sagebrush was ablaze. The fire eventually grew to about five acres, said Carson City Fire Chief Stacey Giomi.
He said it appeared to have started in Toiyabe National Forest land along the roadside near the Nevada Department of Transportation's gravel pit and the Park and Ride lot on the north side of the highway. The cause is unknown. Giomi noted there were no reports of lightning Friday.
"We suspect it was human caused. Anything is possible when the grasses are as dry as they are. You can almost look at this cheatgrass sideways, and it catches on fire," he said.
The aircrafts each dropped two loads of fire retardant and the helicopter dropped about three buckets of water, said Giomi. That, combined with winds which first pushed the fire toward homes, then switched and pushed the flames toward the gravel pit, helped crews get a handle on the blaze, he said. Before it was clear the fire was going to be controlled, engines were stationed at homes on Roland Street and Roventini Way, south of the Albertsons grocery store, Giomi said.
"Had this happened the other day when we had all those fires, it could have been worse because we were stretched pretty thin," he said.
Both east and west lanes of Highway 50 at the base of Spooner Summit were closed for about an hour while crews tackled the fire.
Carson City Fire Department, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, East Fork and Tahoe Douglas fire districts and the Nevada Division of Forestry responded.
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