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October 22, 2014

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Firefighters make gains in battling Reno-area wildfire

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Scott Sonner/AP

Houses are pictured in the foothills Monday, May 19, 2014, several miles from a wildfire burning to the west in the Mount Rose Wilderness Area along the Sierra’s eastern front in Reno, Nev. Firefighters got the upper hand on the blaze Monday and no homes were threatened.In the background are trees recovering from a previous fire that burned much closer to houses in the Hunter Lake area.

RENO — Rain moving into the Sierra is a welcome relief for crews trying to snuff out a wildfire on the edge of Reno, but it also brought new challenges Tuesday in the steep, slippery, canyons northeast of Lake Tahoe that are prone to landslides.

Cooler temperatures and lighter winds helped 150 firefighters on the ground and four helicopters above get the upper hand Monday on the blaze that has burned more than a square mile since it started Saturday night.

It's now about half contained with full containment projected by Friday.

No homes are in danger and no major injuries have been reported, although one firefighter suffered a minor eye injury, said Elizabeth Kenna, spokeswoman for the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center. Fire suppression costs already have reached $337,000.

With up to a half inch of rain in Tuesday's forecast, Sierra Front spokesman Brian Reublinger said authorities have warned crews to be especially aware of falling rocks as they continue to dig fire lines in the Mount Rose Wilderness above the foothills of southwest Reno.

"When rain comes down, it makes everything really slick," he told KRNV-TV. "You've got to watch out for your footing. You could have a chance of more rolling material."

Containment of the fire that has burned about 760 acres jumped to 47 percent by Tuesday, up from only 5 percent on Monday.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Fire officials say it likely was human-caused because there was no lightning in the area when it was reported about 11 p.m. Saturday.

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