Firefighters prepare for wildfire to spread

The Associated Press
Saturday June 02, 2001

SUSANVILLE — Firefighters battling a 4,459-acre blaze in the Sierra Nevada were forced to deal with windy conditions Friday. Gusts up to 40 mph pushed estimates for full containment to Monday. 

Weather forecasters issued a “red flag” warning for 15 to 20 mph west winds. 

The blaze was 85 percent contained, however, and personnel have begun to demobilize, dropping the number of those fighting the blaze to 1,700. 

The fire, which began Sunday, has cost $4.4 million in firefighting expenses and destroyed $2.5 million worth of timber, mostly on national forest lands. 

It began near Susanville, about 80 miles northwest of Reno, Nev., on private timberland. The blaze was sparked by a man shooting targets in the woods, said state Dept. of Forestry spokeswoman Wendy McIntosh. The man, whose name was not released, was cited for causing a fire and letting it escape. 

Two firefighters were injured while battling the blaze. 

The fire skirted eight homes, coming as close as 30 feet to some of them. About 140 residents were evacuated, but most had returned to their homes by Thursday. 

In southern New Mexico, a wildfire that has burned about 1,900 acres in the Guadalupe Mountains was 90 percent contained Friday, with full containment hoped for by Sunday, a fire information officer Karen Takai said. 

Some 376 firefighters and support personnel were fighting the blaze, burning in the Lincoln National Forest about 10 miles from Carlsbad Caverns National Park. No buildings had been threatened by the blaze, and no injuries were reported.