Highway reopens along Nevada-California line; crews make gains on wildfire
RENO, Nev. — Fire crews were getting the upper hand on a wildland blaze that shut down U.S. Interstate 80 along the Nevada-California line most of Tuesday as helicopters dumped water on the flames in the rugged mountain canyons west of Reno.
A 25-mile stretch of I-80 that had been closed off-and-on since the fire broke out Monday reopened late Tuesday afternoon with some lane restrictions and intermittent safety checks near Truckee, California.
The Sierra Front Interagency Fire Center estimated the fire had burned about a square mile (1.61 kilometer) and was 20 percent contained. No evacuations have been ordered, but crews were stationed late Tuesday around seven structures considered threatened in the Verdi area just west of Reno.
Liberty Utilities said about 40 customers were without power after eight power poles burned near Floriston, California. Liberty spokeswoman Kathy Carter said they planned to begin work to get a temporary generator in place overnight as soon as firefighters determined it was safe to enter the area.
Earlier Tuesday, traffic was backed up for 3 miles on westbound I-80 approaching the closure at the California line where flames burned within 15 feet of the highway near the Truckee River.
The smoke triggered an air quality alert in the Reno-Sparks area where the Washoe County Health District urged young children, the elderly and people with lung disease or asthma to avoid any extended outdoor activity.