Fire Update: Pyramid Lake Now Open, Virginia Mountains Complex 73 percent contained

Jul 29, 2016

We'll continue to update this story as it develops. For updates on the fire, be sure to check the InciWeb website.  

11:14 am Friday update:

Pyramid Lake is now open for recreation. Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Spokesman Scott Carey says that major firefighting operations have ceased at the lake, making the lake safe to re-open.

Fire crews have the entire Virginia Mountains Complex 73 percent contained. Latest estimates predict that the Anderson Fire is 16,284 acres and 80 percent contained, while the Tule Fire is 36,142 acres and 65 percent contained.

The Poodle Fire northwest of Gerlach is now 90 percent contained, and has burned 6,557 acres.

3:36 pm Thursday update:

Fire crews are arriving on the scene of a new fire, the Clark Fire, near Bald Mountain in Lyon County. It is currently estimated at 120 acres.

10:01 am Thursday update:

The Virginia Mountains Complex is now 68 percent contained, based on the latest estimates from fire officials. Lower temperatures and higher humidity is partly responsible for the progress.

Pyramid Lake remains closed, and the public is advised to stay away from the high-traffic areas east of Doyle, California along Highway 395, while fire operations continue in the area.

The Tule Fire is now 35 percent contained.

The Poodle Fire northwest of Gerlach has burned 6,557 acres and is now 90 percent contained.

10:55 am Wednesday update:

Officials are urging the public to keep drones out of fire zones, as the unmanned aerial vehicles can interfere with fire operations. Two aerial intrusions were reported Tuesday, one by a drone.

The Tule Fire is estimated at 30,340 acres burned. Fire crews Tuesday conducted a burnout operation on the south side of Big Canyon, which moved the flames back to the main fire and eliminated the blaze's fuel source. This action did create a large column of smoke, visible for miles.

The Anderson Fire is currently 16,284 acres. Fish Springs Valley and Cottonwood Canyon threats have diminished as firefighters are containing more of the perimeter. This fire is in rough terrain, making it difficult for crews to get a full handle on the situation.

The entire Virginia Mountains Complex is estimated at 53,925 acres and 41 percent contained. A Red Flag Warning remains in effect for the area.

The Poodle Fire northwest of Gerlach is now estimated at 80 percent contained. The flames so far have burned more than 6,500 acres.

Pyramid Lake remains closed to the public until further notice.

4:47 pm Tuesday update:

The Virginia Mountains Complex is now 40 percent contained and fire fighting operations are still active at Pyramid Lake, so the lake remains closed to the public.

A Red Flag Warning is still in place for the area. 

Traffic is clear, and roads have been re-opened, but officials urge people to remain clear of the area, to avoid interfering in containment activities.

10:22 am Tuesday update:

A Red Flag Warning is in effect for the Virginia Mountains Complex area northwest of Reno, while fire personnel continue to fight the flames that have now burned more than 47,000 acres.

Projections for the complex are lower than earlier estimates, down from 50,000 acres a day ago.

Firefighters were able to make significant progress on the blazes Monday, and the Seven Lakes and Sage fires join the Rock Fire as being 100 percent contained. The Tule Fire, the largest of the blazes at more than 27,000 acres, is now 35 percent contained. The final fire of the complex, the Anderson Fire, is at 20 percent containment.

The National Weather Service in Reno reports there is more moisture in the atmosphere today, which should aid in firefighting efforts.

There are no mandatory evacuations in the area, but officials advise residents to be prepared in case of quickly shifting conditions.

The Poodle Fire northwest of Gerlach, is now up to more than 5,000 acres. Officials estimate that blaze at 60 percent containment.

12:40 pm Monday update:

Another fire, called the Poodle Fire, has burned 3,000 acres in the Poodle Mountain Wilderness Study Area 20 miles northwest of Gerlach.

The Poodle Fire began Saturday, and like the ongoing Virginia Mountains Complex fires, was caused by lightning.

12: 35 pm Monday update:

Power has been restored to the Sutcliffe community, including water and sewage, meaning residents can return to their homes.

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Spokesman Scott Carey says that active operations are continuing at Pyramid Lake to fight the fires, and that the lake remains closed until further notice.

The Nixon gym remains open for residents looking for any services they need.

The latest estimates for the entire Virginia Mountains Complex fire is at 50,000 acres, which is roughly 78 square miles.

10:20 pm Sunday update:

The Virginia Mountains Complex has now burned more than 36,000 acres and is at 35 percent containment. That's according the BLM officials.

The Rock Fire is now 100 percent contained.

Officials say that low humidity has made full fire suppression difficult, and expect similar weather in the coming days.

Evacuations remain in effect until further notice.

4:38 pm Sunday update:

The entire Virginia Mountains Complex has now burned more than 38,000 acres north of Reno. The threat to the Sutcliffe community has been eliminated, but Pyramid Lake is closed today and no permits will be issued.

The power remains out in the Sutcliffe community, which has resulted in a loss of water and sewage as well. The Tribal Council of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe has made a declaration of disaster, and is working with state and federal agencies for help on recovery efforts.

Roads are open and local traffic is allowed, but people are urged to stay clear of the area.

Two aircraft have been assigned to the Tule Fire area to aid in containment.

5:48 am Sunday update:

Mandatory evacuations in the Tule Fire area have continued. Up to this point, 600 Sutcliffe residents and 200 people from Pyramid Lake beaches have been evacuated.

According to officials from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation, one home, three mobile homes, two vehicles and six structures at the unoccupied Hardscrabble Ranch have been destroyed.

Power is out in Sutcliffe, and is expected to remain out for the next few days while crews fight the flames.

State Road 445 is now closed for four miles south of the junction at State Road 446, and SR 446 remains closed between State Road 445 and 447.

8:06 pm Saturday update:

The Tule Fire is now estimated at 18,000 acres. That's up from the nearly 8,000 acres reported just a few hours ago.

Jesse Bender is the spokesperson for the incident and she says that high winds, low humidity and plenty of fuel all came together to create the sudden boom in size.

The entire Virginia Mountains Complex, which consists of the Tule, Seven Lakes, Anderson and Sage fires, is estimated at 10 percent contained.

Evacuations have been ordered for the community of Sutcliffe. Evacuees are being sent to the Nixon Gym, and transportation is available for those who need it. Evacuations are also taking place at Pyramid Lake beaches.

No residences have been reported as lost.

The Sage Fire and Anderson Fire are now burning together near the Winnemucca Ranch Road. The Anderson Fire is burning in steep and rugged terrain, making suppression efforts difficult.

The Seven Lakes Fire is currently under control and officials are not anticipating any additional difficulties.

The Rock Fire burning north of Reno is 80 percent contained.

6:40 pm Saturday update:

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for Sutcliffe and the Nevada Department of Transportation has reported that Sutcliffe Highway State Road 446 has been closed in both directions between SR445 and SR447.

People are urged to avoid the area entirely while crews work to contain the flames.

6:00 pm Saturday update:

Four separate, active wildland fires make up what officials are calling the Virginia Mountains Complex: Anderson, Sage, Seven Lakes and Tule fires.

According to the InciWeb website, the four blazes are located about 35 miles north of Reno, near Pyramid Lake and were caused by lightning.   

The fires have burned more than 19,000 acres so far, and is currently ten percent contained. Officials predict that conditions could worsen due to high winds and low humidity.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that several structures have been destroyed in the Tule Fire, including the Hardscrabble Ranch.

At last report, the Rock Fire is still 50 percent contained. Voluntary evacuations have been lifted and a Type II Management Team is currently managing the area. Residences are currently not threatened, but hot temperatures and strong winds could diminish firefighting efforts.

6:30 pm Friday update:

According to Washoe County: The Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District is reporting that the Rock Fire north of Reno is 50 percent contained and the total acreage burned has decreased to 1,500 acres. No structures are being threatened at this time.

The Red Flag Warning remains in place until around 9 p.m., according to the National Weather Service in Reno.

12:45 pm Friday update:

More than 200 firefighters are battling the largest of a series of lightning-sparked fires north of Reno that are threatening dozens of homes.   

Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District spokeswoman Erin Holland says about 40 structures remain threatened in the Red Rock area north of Reno.  She says there have no reports of any injuries or any structures damaged by the fire that has burned about 3 square miles of grass and brush.

Dozens of residents voluntarily evacuated to a Red Cross Shelter set up at O'Brien Middle School in Stead after dry lightning started the fire about 7 p.m. Thursday. A spokesman at the school said they all had left by mid-morning Friday.

Holland says cool weather helped crews make progress on the blaze overnight. But they're concerned about winds picking up this afternoon with temperatures expected in excess of 100 degrees.

From Washoe County: Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Chief Charlie Moore has advised residents to be prepared for high fire danger Friday afternoon because of projected thunderstorms, high winds and hot temperatures. The National Weather Service in Reno said that dry lightning strikes could start as soon as 1 p.m. and that wind gusts could reach 50 MPH. Moore says that structure protection continues to be paramount.

9 am Friday update:

Crews from the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District are battling the Rock Fire burning near the Red Rock area north of Reno.  

An information line has been set up. Call 775-337-5800. 

It started at 7 pm on Thursday from a lighting strike. More than 1,600 acres have burned. No structures have been lost and no injuries have been reported. 

Voluntary evacuations are in place. Families and small animals can go to O’Brien Middle School. Large animals can be evacuated to the Livestock Events Center.  

TMFPD is the lead agency, but several others are assisting and more than 200 personnel are onsite. Air support was used Thursday night and is resuming Friday morning. The crews are focused on structure protection.