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Governor Sandoval Tours Wildfires in Northern Nevada

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval toured parts of Northern Nevada Sunday, where approximately 3,000 firefighters continue to battle 15 large wildfires in the region, some more than 300,000 acres. “You can read about the fires, you can hear about the fires, but until you see them you don’t get a perspective for the magnitude,” Governor Sandoval said at a press briefing in Carson City Sunday afternoon. The governor toured the fires from a small aircraft throughout the day.     Although no structures have been damaged, some were threatened in areas including the small town of Mountain City, Nevada, which lies near the Idaho border. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says in the past two days some evacuations were ordered for areas of Mountain City, Paradise Valley and McDermitt.   Governor Sandoval said he spoke to one rancher in Elko County who said there has been large scale damage to rangeland, where cattle graze.   “That could literally put families out business,” the governor said. “Generations of families who have run these ranches could lose their way of life.”   All of the fires were caused by dry lightning. Mike Dondero with the Nevada Division of Forestry said firefighters have contained about 70 percent of the all the wildfires combined.  Dondero said firefighters are preparing for more thunderstorms that are expected to hit the region this evening. “The trick is to catch [the fires] when they’re small,” he said. Officials say lightning coupled with extreme drought conditions has increased the severity of the fires. “The vegetation out there just doesn’t have any moisture left in it. In May, vegetation was facing August conditions. Now that it is August it is extremely dry. The fires are burning erratically,” Dondero said. Firefighters, some from as far as Florida, continue to battle fires over rugged, mountainous terrain, sometimes away from the roads. Dodnero says in that case, hand crews have to clear brush and take fire line up the hillside to stop the fire from spreading.  In the case of the Holloway Fire, which is 350,000 acres, Dondero says it’s an extremely difficult task. “That’s like digging fire line from Carson City to Reno,” he said.