Staff Reports · 4 min read
GARDNERVILLE, Nev. — Updated 9 p.m., Friday — Crews wrapped up full containment on the Preacher Fire Saturday afternoon, with a final burn size of 5,333 acres.
The fire has used 521 personnel.
The fire was originally sparked by lightning during a heavy thunderstorm early Monday morning. A retardant line had been laid around 100 percent of the fire’s perimeter Monday afternoon when it was still sized at 300 acres. Late afternoon winds pushed the fire across the retardant line, though, causing what East Fork Fire Protection officials described as a major blow-up on the north end of the fire as it grew to more than 10 times its prior size to more than 3,100 acres over the course of approximately three hours.
Search and Rescue, Douglas County Sheriff’s Officers and Tribal Police went door-to-door Monday evening encouraging evacuations of residents in the areas of the east end of Pine Nut Road and the Bodie Flats area in the vicinity of Courtland Avenue. Eleven residents elected to stay at the emergency shelter Monday evening. The evacuations had been lifted by Tuesday evening.
Scattered thunderstorms Tuesday morning brought precipitation that helped to slow the spread of the fire.
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners signed a Disaster Declaration for the fire Tuesday evening.
The declaration was done based on the current potential threat the fire brings to structures and the community. The declaration has been submitted to the State of Nevada and will start the process to request additional resources required to more effectively respond to an emergency.
“The safety and well-being of Douglas County remains our priority while we continue to try and stabilize this fire,” said County Manager, Larry Werner. “Douglas County is being proactive by initiating this declaration by securing our access any additional resources or recovery we may need.” said Larry Werner, County Manager.
The Great Basin Type 2 Team 6 assumed command of the scene at 6 a.m. Wednesday, and the Sierra Front Type 3 Team will remain on the fire to provide support for as long as the incident calls for.
On Tuesday morning, FEMA approved a fire management grant for the fire to provide support to the suppression efforts with meals, health & safety items, tools & equipment, mobilization & travel costs and overtime compensation.
Officials report that access is demanding and dangerous for crews fighting the fire due to the difficult nature of the terrain, numerous mineshafts in the area, washed out roads, along with fuel moistures that have hit critical levels and erratic weather.
Jurisdiction for the fire is with the Bureau of Land Management. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is in charge of evacuations and East Fork Fire Protection District is in charge of structure protection.
KOLO Channel 8 in Reno reports one firefighter has received treatment for a twisted ankle and smoke inhalation.
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Crews first responded to the lightning-caused fire in the Pine Nut Mountains, south of the old Preacher Mine burn scar around 3:45 a.m. Monday morning.
East Fork, BLM and Nevada Division of Forestry crews crews, along with air support, aided in battling the blaze. Ten engines, five hand crews, five helicopter and seven aircraft worked the scene through most of Monday before resources began to be dismissed to respond to other incidents within the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch coverage area.
Crews also responded to the Flats Fire off of Stockyard Road east of East Valley Road just before 4 p.m. Monday in East Valley.
Upon arrival, first responders reported the fire had burned three acres, though it grew to 18.4 acres, according to Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch, before crews knocked it down within an hour of first report. Four engines remained on scene overnight to mop up and overhaul the scene.
An additional fire, sized at a half-acre burning in sagebrush, was reported off of Highway 395 and Mica Drive in Northern Douglas County before 10:30 a.m. Monday. East Fork and Forest Service crews quickly knocked it down and began mopping up the scene.
East Fork crews also responded to a single tree fire caused by a lightning strike in the area of Leviathan Mine Road in the early morning hours Monday — around the same time as the start of the Preacher Fire.
That fire was quickly extinguished with no major spread.