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Victim Identified in Wind-Fueled Wildfire on California-Nevada Border

Published in 21 November, 2020

At a Glance

  • The fire burned more than 32 square miles.

  • More than 90 structures were destroyed.

  • Winds up to 78 mph were recorded in the area.

A wildfire raging in a small community on the California-Nevada border destroyed dozens of buildings and killed at least one person.

The so-called Mountain View Fire ignited during high winds on Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon, it had burned more than 32 square miles in Mono County, California. Evacuation orders were issued in the communities of Walker, Coleville and Topaz.

The victim was identified Friday as 69-year-old Sallie Joseph. The Mono County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that Joseph was found in the debris of her burned home.

“The Mountain View Fire is the largest and most destructive fire in Mono County in recent history,” the sheriff’s office said. “The loss of life, homes and property is devastating to our community.”

(MORE: Wind-Driven Fire Near Reno Burns Buildings, Prompts Evacuations)

The fire destroyed more than 90 buildings, including several homes.

The Associated Press reported that more than 100 residents were displaced by the fire. Many were being housed at a local hotel where the Red Cross set up an evacuation point. The sheriff’s office said most of the community of Walker remained evacuated on Friday due to environmental hazards, lack of power and potentially contaminated water supplies.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a disaster declaration for the affected areas.

The fire was one of four that erupted in the area Tuesday as high winds ushered in a cold front. The National Weather Service recorded a gust of 78 mph near Walker Tuesday night. Gusts over 50 mph were clocked throughout the day.

About 90 miles north of Walker, the Pinehaven Fire burning at the same time destroyed or damaged several homes in the Caughlin Ranch area of Reno, Nevada.

The cause of both fires is under investigation.

Pinehaven Fire Incident Commander Mark Winkelman said that blaze started near the origin point of a destructive fire sparked by arcing power lines in November 2011, KPIX-TV reported.

Reno Fire Chief David Cochran said extremely dry conditions helped push the Pinehaven Fire through the Caughlin Ranch neighborhood.

“Even though there was literally snow on the ground in some areas, a wind-driven fire like that is almost impossible to stop,” Cochran said.

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