CARSON CITY, Nev. – An army of firefighters, helped by diminishing winds, has gained partial control over an explosive wildfire that burned 14 homes and forced evacuations of hundreds of others.
"I think it's done its worst, I really think it has," said the fire incident commander, Marty Scheuerman. "Now we can do our job."
Until late Thursday, Scheuerman added, "the fire had dictated to us what it was going to do, instead of us dictating to it."
Christie Kalkowski of the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center says more than 1,100 firefighters battling the 7,200-acre blaze had it 30 percent contained.
The wind-whipped fire, with flames reaching 100-feet tall, also has burned one business and 25 garages, barns and other outbuildings since it broke out before dawn Wednesday on the western edge of Nevada's capital. Five people have been injured.
On Thursday, the fire raged out of control through or near two northwest Carson neighborhoods with about 600 homes, but was stopped at a ridge separating the area from the Washoe Valley to the north.
All the homes had to be evacuated, and several hundred other homes and businesses were threatened by the fire, Kalkowski said.
The cause of the fire remains unknown but Carson City (search) sheriff's deputies were looking for teenagers who may have been in a canyon area Tuesday night, before the fire started.
The blaze destroyed exclusive homes in the canyon and at one point burned to within half a mile of — but didn't threaten — the governor's mansion.
Firefighters were aided by more than two dozens planes and helicopters, including three heavy tankers.
Gov. Kenny Guinn said the fire hazard made it imperative for federal officials to quickly complete examinations of heavy air tankers recently grounded in nearby Minden. Once cleared to fly, he said those planes would be just minutes away. The big tankers fighting the fire flew in from distant locations to try to save homes and businesses.
"It just makes you sick," Guinn said Thursday. "You can't put a price tag on the misery these people who lost their homes will go through."
"You never think it's going to be you," said Robin Darney, who lost her home. "It's a grief I hope I will never feel again. But my children are safe."
One firefighter broke a leg, another suffered back and neck injuries and two others suffered burns, according to Kalkowski. Reporter John Tyson of KOLO-TV in Reno (search) suffered minor burns on his hands and face.
In California, a fast-moving fire threatened two rural communities in the Angeles National Forest, as firefighters elsewhere made big gains against blazes that have charred about 23,000 acres of brushland and forest this week.
The fire in Pine Canyon (search), about 50 miles north of Los Angeles, grew to nearly 9,000 acres and burned at least one motor home and another structure, said U.S. Forest Service information officer Ed Gililland. It was 47 percent contained Thursday.
About 600 people have been asked to evacuate their homes in Lake Hughes and Elizabeth Lake, and more evacuations were likely, Gililland said.
In Alaska, fire crews continued to fight 75 separate blazes, seven of them 100,000 acres or larger. One fire had spread to within 15 miles of Fairbanks and expanded to half the size of Rhode Island, blackening more than 379,000 acres.