Suspicious fires under investigation

Last week’s series of suspicious fires near Mill City were still under investigation late last week by the state fire marshal according to Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen. The four “human related” fires blackened almost 1,500 acres along State Route 400 four miles south of Mill City.

Two structures and one RV were destroyed in the Union Fire including a possible residence but no structures were lost in the other blazes and no injuries were reported according to the BLM.

The Union Fire was reported first at 10:35 a.m. on Tuesday, June 25 and all four of the fires started on private land before some of them spread to public land. The Union Fire burned 1,245 acres before it was controlled on June 26. Shortly after the initial call, the Star Creek Fire was reported and contained that day to eleven acres. The 237-acre Big Canyon Fire was controlled on June 26 and the one-acre Tehema Fire was controlled on June 25 according to the BLM.   

Allen said nearby residents were notified but no one was evacuated and no roads were closed during the fires. As of Friday, no suspects had been arrested as a result of the incident, he said.

“At this time, the fires are still under investigation and no one has been charged,” Allen said. “I am unaware of any evacuations either although we were in communication with some property owners as well as with Safe Haven should they have to evacuate.”

BLM fire investigators are working with the Nevada State Fire Marshal and the Nevada Division of Forestry to determine the cause and potential suspects as the investigation continues. 

BLM, NDF and Pershing County volunteer fire crews responded to the fires. Fire resources included eight BLM engines, one NDF engine, two BLM dozers, three battalion chiefs, one BLM water tender and “several structure and wildland resources from Pershing County.”

The BLM also called in Four Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) and one air attack (aerial supervision) plane.

Better planning and coordination between federal, state and local fire resources stopped the fires early according to the BLM press release. The agency says 100 percent of this year’s brush fires in Nevada have been contained during the “initial attack phase.”

“Pre-season planning efforts and positive working relationships amongst multiple agencies resulted in a quick, efficient, unified response that minimized the growth of this fire,” BLM Fire Management Officer Donovan Walker stated in the BLM press release.

The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office “provided critical coordination and communication to local residents as the fires spread” and NV Energy responded to the incidents “given their infrastructure was within and adjacent to the fire” according to the BLM press release.