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One person dead as Mountain View fire continues raging in Eastern Sierra

A firefighter sprays water on a burning home.
A firefighter battles flames at a home as the Mountain View fire tears through the Mono County community of Walker on Wednesday.
(Noah Berger / Associated Press)

A fast-moving brush fire at the California-Nevada border ravaged the small town of Walker in Mono County, burning many buildings and killing at least one person.

Spurred by strong winds, the Mountain View fire ignited Tuesday afternoon and has scorched 20,879 acres in the Eastern Sierra, along the Nevada border.

On Wednesday, governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Mono County, allowing the county to access state assistance to fight the fire, which so far has destroyed at least 80 structures and is 20% contained.

The Mono County Sheriff’s Office could not immediately be reached for additional information about the fatality.

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A fire that ignited Tuesday along the California-Nevada border has led to one death and caused extensive damage in the Mono County town of Walker.

With the fire raging, residents in the communities of Coleville, Walker and Topaz were ordered to evacuate.

Damage assessments were underway, and “it could be days before it’s safe for residents to return,” the Mono County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a Facebook post.

The fatality and destruction add to California’s worst year of fire on record. Thousands of structures have been lost across Northern California and dozens of people killed.

On Wednesday, rain and snow that fell above 5,000 feet in elevation slowed the Mountain View fire’s growth, the federal Bureau of Land Management said in a news release. By Wednesday night, officials said they were not expecting the fire to grow.

“The goal of wildland fire crews today is to remain focused on protection of the communities of Walker, Coleville and Topaz as well as the Camp Antelope Native American Community,” the news release said.

About 88 miles north of Walker, the Pinehaven fire also started Tuesday afternoon in the Caughlin Ranch area of Reno, according to Reno Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Winkelman.

That fire had burned 1,200 acres and was about 5% contained, Winkelman said Wednesday morning. About 1,300 homes were evacuated. Five single-family homes were destroyed and 15 more were damaged in Caughlin Ranch, he said.

“We’re currently getting day crews in place, continuing to reinforce fire lines, assess structure damage and put out structure fires where they have occurred,” Winkelman said, “and just continuing to mop up fire in general.”

He added that the cause is still under investigation.

A firefighter inside a home
A firefighter extinguishes flames from the Mountain View fire in Walker, Calif.
(Noah Berger / Associated Press)

Two firefighters suffered medical emergencies while battling the blaze and have both been treated and released, Winkelman said. One firefighter injured a calf muscle. The other had an allergic reaction.

“They’re doing well,” Winkelman said. The firefighter with the calf injury is “being monitored.”

He added that about 15 roads were closed.

Wind gusts of up to 40 mph were expected Wednesday, the Reno Fire Department cautioned in a news release.

“It’s important for the public to know that things can change quickly,” the department said.

But firefighters said they were optimistic that the blaze would be fully contained by Friday.

Times staff writer Alejandra Reyes-Velarde contributed to this report.


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