The wildfire that resulted burned about 206 acres Monday in the Caughlin Ranch area of Reno. Deputies are still searching for the white male with long hair, who was last seen wearing a white tank top and khaki shorts.
Dubbed the Pinehaven Fire, the blaze started a brush fire in the hills west of Reno that have seen a few fires in the past decade.
Monday’s flames were fueled by cheat grass that had been allowed to grow in a burn scar left following the Hawken Fire, a human-caused wildfire that threatened numerous homes in the Caughlin Ranch subdivision in 2007 but burned 2,700 acres of forest.
The cheat grass, which can be explosive in nature, along with “snags” of dead tree branches and other natural obstacles in the forest, posed several dangers in the area, said Eric Guevin, fire marshal for the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District and spokesman for the Type 3 command that organized Monday evening to handle the blaze.
By Tuesday mid-morning, the fire was mostly under control.
“The fire is 90 percent contained,” Guevin said. “We have a line all the way around and are working to contain the fire lines.”
The winds, which had gusted strongly the day before, had calmed to 10 miles per hour Tuesday.
“We’re not expecting gusts today,” Guevin said. “That’s what we’re hoping for — a stable weather pattern.”
At the height of fire activity, 186 firefighters were on scene, two helicopters, four air tankers and several crews from neighboring districts.
“A lot of the area had to be done on foot or by hand crews because of the terrain,” Guevin said. “We had difficulties establishing lines be cause of the terrain.”
The fire, fortunately, began to burn back into itself as it neared sundown, allowing it to burn itself down.
No structures were threatened and no injuries to residents or firefighters were reported.
Because the fire appeared to be caused by arson, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the driver of the Toyota is encouraged to call the detectives division at 328-3320 or Secret Witness at 322-4900, report online at www.secretwitness.com or text the tip to 847411 (TIP 411) keyword “SW.”