Crews Close to Containing Wildfires in Nevada

For the first time in three months, firefighters in northeastern Nevada might get a chance to catch their breath.

Crews were on pace Sunday to contain the last of two wildfires that have burned more than 407 square miles since Sept. 3 around Elko, 290 miles east of Reno. If they do, it would mark the first time the region has been without an active wildland blaze since June 6, fire officials said.

"The fires out here have been constant," fire information officer Gina Dingman said. "We want it to snow."

The two fires had burned more than 261,000 acres in Lander and Elko counties. A 150,270-acre blaze was contained late Saturday, and a 110,738-acre fire was expected to be fully contained Sunday evening.

Fire officials attributed progress on the fires to cooler temperatures, less wind and the work of the firefighting crews. But officials warned the fire season is far from over.

Meanwhile, firefighters working a wildfire that has burned nearly 20 square miles in the Los Padres National Forest in California reported some progress Sunday with the help of calm winds, temperatures in the mid-50s and relative humidity at around 66 percent, authorities said.

The fire, which began nearly a week ago about 40 miles north of Los Angeles, was 12 percent contained, said Ned Linquist, a forest spokesman. The fire had forced the closure of several camping and recreation areas, and the evacuation of about 1,200 campers and fishermen. No homes have been damaged.

Crews in southern Montana continued to fight a 207,000-acre fire — about 323 square miles. The fire, which started Aug. 22 from lightning, earlier burned 26 homes. The fire was 60 percent contained, officials said.

The fire is nearing the three-week mark and has generated so much curiosity, along with concern, that officials Sunday began conducting public tours of the fire camp where fire crews rest and eat between shifts. The tours, similar to those offered at some major fires in previous years, apparently were a hit.

"People keep coming through," said Char Fuller, a fire information officer.

In Washington, the two largest wildfires in the state remained relatively calm, showing little increase during the weekend. A fire that burned more than 102,000 acres, or 159 square miles, was 65 percent contained, while another that torched over 170,000 acres, or 265 square miles, was 60 percent contained.