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House fire ignites blaze near Lake Tahoe

A house fire sparked a blaze Saturday on Lake Tahoe’s west shore, destroying at least two other homes and forcing evacuations, authorities said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A house fire sparked a blaze Saturday on Lake Tahoe’s west shore, destroying at least two other homes and forcing evacuations, authorities said.

The wind-whipped, 25-acre blaze began near the resort community of Sunnyside just south of Tahoe City, Placer County sheriff’s deputies said. No injuries were reported.

The initial house was fully engulfed when crews arrived and the fire spread to nearby structures, causing the evacuation of an unknown number of homes and businesses, deputies said.

In all, five structures have been destroyed, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Barbara Rebiskie said. Firefighters expect to have the fire contained at just 35 acres, she said.

“We have got multiple spot fires and I’m sure it’s caused by winds,” Rebiskie said. “I just think given what we have weatherwise — high temperatures and extremely low humidities — any wildfire in the state of California could potentially be devastating.”

Flames were being fanned by wind gusts up to 30 mph, and the National Weather Service was calling for similar gusts through midnight Saturday.

The blaze is about 20 miles north of South Lake Tahoe, where a wildfire that began June 24 destroyed 254 homes and charred more than 3,000 acres. It took firefighters eight days to contain the fire, at a cost of $12.1 million.

Meanwhile, a resort featuring a century-old hunting lodge built by Buffalo Bill Cody just outside Yellowstone National Park in northwest Wyoming reopened as a second day of rain dampened a wildfire smoldering nearby.

Jack McDonald, weekend manager at the Pahaska Tepee Resort, said the lodge reopened Friday night and had a few guests Saturday.

Guests and staff fled last week in advance of the fire that started in Yellowstone and was moving toward the resort and other cabins outside of the park’s east gate.

Rain on Friday and Saturday stalled the blaze and the park on Friday reopened its east gate, which had been closed for several days. However, the rain caused a mud slide 40 feet wide and 5 feet deep that closed the highway leading to the gate.

The fire has burned close to 30 square miles in the park and in neighboring Shoshone National Forest.

Dozens of homes around Frenchtown, Mont., were evacuated ahead of a wildfire that has burned seven square miles since Tuesday. Major work Saturday included establishing a bulldozer line to defend U.S. 93 and the community of Evaro from the fire.

On Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a fire that has burned about 28 square miles in Luce County was 65 percent contained. A lightning strike is suspected of starting the wildfire Aug. 2.

“We have turned the corner on this fire,” said Scott Heather, fire supervisor for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

A fire in Southern California’s Los Padres National Forest has burned 171,750 acres of wilderness, or more than 268 square miles. It burned more than 16,300 acres of backcountry overnight but remained well within firebreaks set a mile or more ahead of the flames, fire spokesman Victor Gutierrez said. The fire was 59 percent contained.