Nevada fire 65% contained; 29 homes destroyed

Story highlights

  • Weather is now a concern as rain storm moves in
  • A man admits to improperly discarding fireplace ashes
  • "This is a devastating fire," an official says
Firefighters gained the upper hand Friday on a destructive wildfire burning near Reno, Nevada, though concerns quickly turned to possible flooding from an impending storm.
Nearly 30 homes were destroyed in the 3,177-acre blaze, which was 65% contained Friday evening, authorities said. Another five homes and seven outbuildings were damaged, Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley said.
"It's been a long day and a long night," Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said. "Weather remains our highest priority as well as extinguishing hot spots."
Weather experts have been called in to flag any potential danger areas for flooding after the fire wiped much of the landscape of vegetation. The city was under a flash-flood watch Friday night, with up to an inch of rain expected.
Authorities are investigating a possible fatality due to the blaze in North Washoe Valley, though it has not been determined whether the death was fire-related.
The fire prompted the evacuation of about 10,000 people, closed a major highway and led the governor to declare a state of emergency. It began burning around 1 p.m. Thursday.
Investigators believe they have pinpointed the cause of the fire. A man came forward Friday admitting to improperly discarding fireplace ashes, Haley said.
The man, who was not identified, "is extremely remorseful," Haley said. The case has been turned over to the district attorney's office, which will determine whether criminal charges will be filed.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has declared a state of emergency, expressed his condolences to those who had lost homes in the fire and lauded the multi-agency effort to begin the recovery and rebuilding process.
"The Nevada family has come together," he said.
A team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will arrive Tuesday to conduct a damage assessment, Sandoval said.
Washoe County Manager Katy Simon predicted losses will be in the millions of dollars.
"This is a devastating fire," she said, adding, "We have seen great tragedy in the past 30 hours."