- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Firefighters continued to make progress on a half-dozen wildfires in northern Nevada Tuesday but crews feared gusty winds blowing in from the Pacific Ocean could fan flames that forced evacuations earlier on tribal lands near Pyramid Lake north of Reno.

A firefighter was treated for cuts and received stitches at a Reno hospital Tuesday but no other injuries or new damages were reported.

No structures were immediately threatened by the biggest complex of fires, which has burned about 75 miles of rangeland but is now estimated to be 40 percent contained about 40 miles north of Reno.

About 750 firefighters remained on the lines Tuesday evening as winds picked up to 15 mph in some areas. The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning through 10 p.m. due to hot, dry conditions, with winds forecast to gust up to 35 mph north of U.S. Interstate 80.

“We told all the crews this morning to keep their heads on a swivel and to be prepared for just about anything,” BLM fire spokeswoman Jesse Bender said.

Tribal police asked residents to leave two ranches on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s reservation where back-fires were being lit to fortify fire lines on the west flank of the blaze to keep it away from Pyramid Lake Road, a main artery in the remote, high-desert area.

Three of the five fires making up the Virginia Mountain Complex were fully contained - the Rock, Sage and Seven Lakes fires. The biggest remaining, the Tule fire, has burned 47 square miles and was estimated to be 35 percent contained.

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe town of Sutcliffe was no longer threatened, but residents in some rural areas were told to prepare to evacuate quickly if necessary. Pyramid Lake was closed, and was being used as a water source by air tankers.

Further north, officials reported 60 percent containment of an 8-square-mile wildfire sparked by lightning during the weekend on a mountain in a remote and scenic wilderness study area surrounding Poodle Mountain, about 20 miles northwest of Gerlach.

About 400 crew members remained on that fire near where the annual Burning Man counterculture festival is held.

“Firefighters gained a lot of ground,” Said Glen Uhlig, incident commander for the inter-agency crews.

Increased air support and the proximity to the Squaw Creek Reservoir a half-mile away “‘allowed the helicopters to make quick water drops to keep the line cool,” Uhlig said. That allowed ground forces to expand containment of unchecked lines, he said.

In eastern Nevada, firefighters had 80-percent containment of a 1.3-square-mile wildfire on public rangeland about 95 miles northeast of Las Vegas.


Ritter reported from Las Vegas

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