Crews Continue to Contain Two Thousand Acre Caughlin Wildfire

 
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Kate McGee

A wind-whipped wildfire starting early Friday morning, quickly spreading to 2,000 acres and displacing over 9,500 residents.

12:40 p.m.: Reno Fire Chief Mike Hernandez says officials believe the Caughlin fire was electrical in nature, but officials are still investigating. According to Hernandez, electrical arcing is common during high winds.

Some of the nearly 10,000 residents displaced by the fire have begun returning to their homes this afternoon. U.S. Congressman Mark Amodei is visiting the devestated area today around 1:30 p.m.

Crews worked around the clock Friday night to secure property near the Caughlin fire. According to Washoe County officials, crews were able to extinguish many hot spots and secure homes. The Nevada National Guard was also surveying the area throughout the night.

Power has been restored to residents affected by the fire, and residents who were displaced are expected to return to their homes starting at noon Saturday. However, only residents will be able to return to the area, all other traffic will still be diverted.

One home on Gibraltar Drive was badly damaged. Reno Firefighter David Rutherford says they had already moved to an other area down the hill when they were forced to return to the home.

"They came back and said they've got some more embers and it was threatening the structure and we came back to try and stop it and prevent everyone else's house from burning," Rutherford said.

Gibraltar Drive resident Jessica Elcano was evacuated shortly after midnight Friday. She says the wind blew embers from a burning home across the street onto her front yard.

"We lost the juniper bushes and half of our lawn, but if it wasn't for the great Reno Fire Department, we would have lost our house," Elcano said as she hosed down her burnt lawn with water.


Officials say wind gusts up to 75 miles per hour caused the fire to spread quickly across the area.

U.S. Senator Dean Heller and U.S. Congressman Mark Amodei will tour the disaster and meet with residents Saturday afternoon.

As of Friday night, firefighters had stopped forward progress of the 2-thousand acre blaze. But there is still 0% containment. According to officials, one firefighter suffered first and second degree burns. 16 others were injured and there has been one death. Officials say 21 structures have been damaged.

According to Governor Brian Sandoval, FEMA has approved a grant that makes Nevada eligible for funding assistance up to 75%. Chief Hernandez says it wouldn't be quote, 'far fetched' to label this as a multi-million dollar fire. Officials say they know the area where the fire began, but they are still investigating what started the blaze. They will hold the next press conference at 10am today.