RENO, Nev. – A wind-whipped wildfire (search) sparked by a target shooter erupted Wednesday near Reno and quickly spread to at least 2,500 acres, threatening homes, forcing evacuations and closing a major highway.
At least seven structures burned in the Pleasant Valley area (search), about seven miles from Reno, according to fire officials. Because of dense smoke, it was not immediately known if the burning structures were homes or outbuildings.
"When we left, the flames were coming right down the canyon," resident Joseph Martin said. "They were just saying, 'You might have to evacuate,' and 10 minutes later, they said, 'You got to get the hell out of there.'"
At least 350 homes were threatened by the fire, which was being whipped by winds gusting to 35 mph.
Firefighting crews on the ground were being assisted by helicopters and air tankers, officials said.
"They're doing a great job, but it's kicking our butt right now," Reno Fire Marshal Larry Farr said.
Farr said the fire was sparked by a man who was target shooting and fired a bullet that ricocheted off a rock.
Residents were urged to evacuate. Crews cut electricity to the area to help decrease the possibility of power lines snapping and sparking more fires.
A section of U.S. 395 (search), which links Reno with Carson City, was closed for several hours before reopening at nightfall.