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Wildfires Near Lake Tahoe Force Evacuations, Road Closures

RENO, Nev. (AP) – Hundreds of firefighters along the California-Nevada line were battling dangerous wildfires Friday at Lake Tahoe and in the valley between Carson City and Reno on Friday. Flames fueled by winds gusting up to 76 mph have forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes, closed roads and schools and left thousands without power.

There were no immediate reports of any deaths or injuries from either fire, officials said. But dozens of homes were threatened and at least one structure has burned in an area along the Mount Rose Highway connecting Reno to Lake Tahoe.

More than 5,000 people were without power at 10:30 a.m. Friday, mostly in southwest Reno, according to NV Energy.

The El Dorado County sheriff ordered 500 homes evacuated at 9 a.m. on the south end of Lake Tahoe, where a 200-acre blaze broke out about 1:30 a.m. California Highway 89 was closed from Camp Richardson to Meeks Bay.

A bigger fire that broke out about 2 a.m. had grown to nearly 2 square miles in the Washoe Valley south of Reno. That fire delayed the start of a special session at the Nevada Legislature where lawmakers are considering raising the hotel tax in Las Vegas to help fund construction of a football stadium intended to lure the NFL’s Raiders to the city.

The fire in the Washoe Valley closed a 15-mile stretch of U.S. Interstate 580 and U.S. Highway 395 between Reno and Carson City.

Fire officials said they’re hopeful the storm will bring some rain to help douse the flames. But the winds gusting up to 89 mph over the Sierra ridgetops were keeping all firefighting aircraft on the ground.

Fire crews from Sacramento were on their way to assist.

Two elementary schools, a high school and the Redfield campus of the University of Nevada, Reno were closed.

Jenny Ramella a spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said residents should take precautions ahead of any evacuations by taking any large animals like horses to an equestrian center in Reno.



Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.


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