updated 7/24/2007 11:37:27 PM ET 2007-07-25T03:37:27

Thunderstorms on Tuesday threatened flash flooding in burned-over areas of Nevada and California, while active fires across the West kept scattered rural residents away from their homes.

A flash flood watch was in effect for parts of western Nevada and the Sierra Nevada range, with forecasters warning of the potential for extensive runoff in areas stripped of vegetation by the wildfire that destroyed at least 254 homes south of Lake Tahoe and by a large blaze southwest of Reno.

Mandatory evacuation orders remained in effect for tiny Jarbidge, Nev., within a mile of a blaze that had blackened about 880 square miles on the Idaho-Nevada line, fire information officer Bill Watt said.

The fire, which was 20 percent contained Tuesday, was mostly in Idaho but the most active part was in Nevada, authorities said.

State of emergency
In northeastern Nevada, the Shoshone-Paiute Tribe declared a state of emergency for the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, most of which has been without power for six days because fires have destroyed more than 240 utility poles.

The tribe is providing ice, propane, flashlights and battery-operated fans, and its fire department is filling bathtubs with water. The Raft River Rural Electric Cooperative provided two 1.25 megawatt generators to deliver some electricity. Temperatures in the region have been near 100 degrees.

Crews have been battling dozens of huge wildfires across the West, primarily in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, California and Utah, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Idaho was getting the worst of it, with 14 large fires burning 1,300 square miles. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter issued disaster emergency declarations for five counties Monday because of the fire danger.

Fire managers worried Tuesday that dry lightning storms in parts of the West could start more blazes, though the systems also were expected to bring rain, the interagency center said.

“It’s great to have rain, but there’s always the possibility of a downdraft and erratic winds. There’s a high concern over additional lightning strikes,” said Ricardo Zuniga, a fire information officer in Utah, where a blaze had charred more than 33 square miles and forced the evacuation of several communities.

No significant advances
Fire lines along the east side of the Utah blaze held during the night, protecting the town of Fountain Green, home to about 1,000 people about 90 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Fountain Green was not evacuated, but residents had earlier been told to leave several tiny communities with a total of about 36 primary residences, officials said. Residents of one of those villages, Holiday Oaks, were allowed to return Tuesday, authorities reported. The blaze was listed as about 20 percent contained.

Image: Air tanker
George Frey  /  AP
An air tanker drops retardant Monday on the Salt Creek fire in Big Hallow Canyon outside Fountain Green, Utah.
Crews in northern California were battling about 30 lightning-sparked fires covering 14 square miles near the Oregon state line. The fires started July 10 and had threatened up to 550 homes near the town of Happy Camp.

Authorities on Tuesday identified a pilot killed the day before when his helicopter crashed about 12 miles southeast of Happy Camp. Dennis Luster Davis, 61, from Boise, Idaho, was transporting a large water container in the aircraft to refill backpacks for firefighters on the ground. Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the crash.

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