Nevada brush fire closes highway, prompts evacuations

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 19, 2012 7:03 PM
Nevada brush fire closes highway, prompts evacuations

(Reuters) - A wind-driven brush fire flared south of Reno, Nevada, on Thursday, prompting the evacuation of an elementary school and nearby homes and belching thick smoke that forced the closure of a stretch of a major highway, state police said.

Trooper Mike Edgell told Reuters that an 8-mile portion of U.S. Highway 395, the main north-south route connecting Reno to Nevada's capital, Carson City, was closed in both directions due to reduced visibility from smoke.

The blaze, burning in the Pleasant Valley area south of Reno, was being propelled by "extremely high winds" through tinder-dry brush, Edgell said.

He said authorities were evacuating an elementary school and a number of homes in the vicinity, but there were no reports of injuries.

The Reno Gazette Journal reported in an online account that at least three and possibly four homes had burned west of Highway 395, but Edgell said he was unable to immediately confirm any damage to structures.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Paul Thomasch)