A firefighter suffered first- and second-degree burns on Friday as authorities tackle an unexplained wind-fueled fire in Reno that has now been largely contained.
The raging blaze reportedly also led to the death of a 74-year-old man who suffered a heart attack while trying to flee from his home. At least 16 people have been hospitalized -- many treated for smoke inhalation -- and approximately 25 homes were damaged or destroyed, authorities have said.
Reno Fire Chief Mike Hernandez has told the media that firefighters had largely contained the blaze but that flames still endanger some areas.
We are actually backtracking and going over areas that have burned and extinguishing hot spots, Hernandez said.
Strong winds, coupled with dry terrain has helped the Reno fire spread from 400 acres to 2,000, roughly more than 3 square miles.
Firefighters told The Associated Press that though their efforts helped spare 4,000 homes, the disaster would likely cost many millions of dollars. Gusts of up to 60 mph caused firefighting helicopters to stay grounded, making it harder for firefighters to get to Caughlin Ranch, an affluent subdivision that bordered pine-forested hills where the fire possibly began after 12:30 a.m.
The blaze drove nearly 10,000 people from their homes when it started.
The fire, which spread through the Nevada Sierra foothills before moving onto Reno, covered upscale houses, horse pastures and roads in smoke plumes as the wind send embers flying.
At least 400 firefighters from as far as 260 miles away went to Reno to help tame the multiple fires that broke out. Flames reportedly reached 50 feet high. Approximately 100 Nevada National Guard members were helping local law enforcement checking homes and ensuring that people were staying out of the evacuated area.
Authorities have told the media that the worst was likely over, but have also warned that a change in the northern winds could refuel the raging fire.
The people are in a state of shock and are hanging in there, Gov. Brian Sandoval told The AP.
More than 4,000 NV Energy customers have reportedly lost power because of scorched or knocked down electrical wires, spokeswoman Faye Andersen told The AP.
These next 24 hours, with all the power lines down and everything else, it is still a very, very dangerous area, Reno Mayor Bob Cashell told The AP.
Cashell said evacuees, some of whom are in shelters, could return home at noon Saturday.