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Guard helicopters douse Topaz Ranch Estates wildfire

By ThisIsReno

CARSON CITY – More than a dozen Soldiers from the Nevada Army National Guard’s 1/168th MEDEVAC unit are on hand flying UH-60 Black Hawk missions dropping water on the expanding Topaz Ranch Estates wildfire about 40 miles south of Carson City. A handful of other Soldiers and Airmen are assisting behind the scenes in the Guard’s joint operations center.

The Battle Born Guardsmen initially responded Tuesday afternoon along with several Nevada Division of Forestry aircraft. The aviators are supporting more than 400 civilian firefighters on the ground in the rural area near Topaz Lake.

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, an estimated 6,750 acres had burned with only about 15% containment in the Pine Nut Mountains bordering the Topaz Ranch Estates. The fire has claimed two homes and damaged or destroyed 17 other structures.

“This fire is different than others I’ve worked on,” said Maj. Sean Matthews, a Nevada Guard liaison officer on site at the incident command post. “It’s pretty far away from the command post and while the flames are just as devastating for the families affected, I’m not feeling the heat on my face this time.”

The Topaz Ranch Estates Fire is the fourth wildfire in seven months with which the Nevada Guard has been called to assist. The Caughlin Fire destroyed homes and property in central Reno in November 2011. The Washoe Fire was responsible for the death of one person and dozens of animals in Washoe Valley south of Reno in January. Also in January, fires burned near Elko.