Crews try to keep massive northern Nevada wildfire at bay

CORRECTS LOCATION OF FIRE SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CALIFORNIA - Hand crews finish up work on the Emerald Fire along Highway 89, Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 on the southwest shores of Lake Tahoe. The blaze that burned about 200 acres northwest of South Lake Tahoe, California was one of three wind-whipped wildfires burning along the Sierra Nevada. The largest one destroyed more than 20 homes in a rural valley between Carson City and Reno, Nevada. (Randall Benton/The Sacramento Bee via AP)

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Firefighters in Nevada were hoping to stop a wind-driven wildfire, which has already destroyed 22 homes north of Carson City, from jumping any major roads.

The blaze between Reno and Carson City was only 5 percent contained Saturday, fire officials said.

The fire, which grew overnight to more than 5 square miles, was threatening 500 structures and had destroyed 17 outbuildings.

Residents east of Washoe Lake have been allowed to return home. Other neighborhoods have been permitted but told they might have to evacuate again during the weekend. Homes west of the lake will remain under evacuation.

Gov. Brian Sandoval declared a state of emergency Friday to free up resources. Approximately 855 personnel were working on the wildfire. Other resources that have been added in the last day include seven air tankers and 155 engines, according to the Sierra Front Interagency Fire Dispatch Center.

Rain helped moderate fire activity, but strong winds have been forecast for later in the day and into Sunday.

The so-called Little Valley fire was first reported shortly after 1:30 a.m. Friday in the mountains between Lake Tahoe and Washoe Valley about 8 miles north of Carson City. It spread rapidly thanks to winds gusting at more than 70 mph.

The cause is still under investigation.

The fire was one of three that broke out along the Sierra Nevada on Friday. A wildfire that prompted the evacuation of 500 homes on the south end of Lake Tahoe was estimated to be 80 percent contained Saturday, according to CAL Fire. That fire has burned about 210 acres and forced the closure of part of California Highway 89. The mandatory evacuation orders will remain in effect throughout the night because heavy rain and high winds were impeding hazard clean up, according to Sgt. Tasha Thompson with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.

Firefighters also snuffed out another fire that destroyed at least one structure and had temporarily closed the Mount Rose Highway connecting Reno to Lake Tahoe.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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