MARKLEEVILLE, Calif. (AP/KTXL) — Crews continued to battle a wildfire that’s burning on both sides of the California-Nevada border as Gov. Gavin Newsom and Gov. Steve Sisolak visited the area Wednesday.
The Tamarack Fire burning south of Lake Tahoe has scorched 68,393 acres of timber and head-high chaparral in national forest land, and is 59% contained, according to Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
The area where the Tamarack Fire is burning saw downpours Monday evening.
“A change in the weather brought much-needed moisture onto the fire area yesterday. A group of afternoon thundershowers dropped heavy rain onto some sections of the fire,” Rocky Mountain Type 1 reported Tuesday morning.
“This wet stuff fell out of the sky yesterday that I barely remembered and recognized,” Dan Dallas, an incident commander for the fire, said Tuesday evening at a briefing.
It fell gently overnight over the whole fire and coupled with firefighter efforts moderated the ferocity of the blaze.
The rain was a welcome relief from the fiercely dry, hot weather that had scorched much of the West only a week or two earlier when flames feeding on bone-dry fuel raged through a dozen states.
Thunderstorms are in Wednesday afternoon’s forecast, officials said. Heavy rain is expected in some areas, with the potential for lightning, hail, slides and flash flooding.
More than 1,300 firefighters are battling the Alpine County blaze, which has destroyed at least 23 buildings, including more than a dozen in Nevada.
Sunday, authorities in Alpine and Douglas counties ended evacuations in 15 communities, allowing nearly 2,000 residents to return home, the Incident Management Team reported.
By Wednesday, mandatory evacuations were also lifted for people living in Wolf Creek and the State Route 89, State Route 4 corridor/Silver City areas. Burns Lake remains under evacuation, Rocky Mountain Type 1 reported.
Although many evacuations in the area have been lifted, fire crews are still asking residents to limit travel to essential travel.
Both evacuation centers have been closed. Douglas County said families in need of assistance should contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-REDCROSS, or view their list of resources.
Highways 395, 88, 89 and 4 are back open. All highway closures are being reported by Caltrans.
The Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District tweeted a video of crews escaping an unpaved road surrounded by a fast-moving spot fire last Wednesday. They also tweeted a video of a firewhirl.
The Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team has produced an interactive map that allows the public to track the Tamarack Fire’s location.
The fire sparked on July 4 and was one of nearly two dozen blazes started by lightning strikes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.