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Photos and Video: Containment grows to 66% on Beckwourth Complex fire


Images by Ty O’Neil

Fire officials reported early this morning that the Beckwourth Complex fire has grown to nearly 93,000 acres and is just 66% contained. Of the two fires in the complex, the much smaller Dotta fire is close to being fully contained. The containment line on the Sugar fire stretches from the southwest corner near Maddalena Road counterclockwise to the east and north, just past Doyle, California.

The fire grew quickly over the weekend and early this week, spurred by extreme fire behavior including development of pyrocumulus clouds and fire whirls. The fire was burning so hot, it essentially created its own weather.

Please note explicit language in the video below.

Several buildings in the town of Doyle, located north of the Nevada border along Highway 395, were destroyed. Many people are still under evacuation orders.

Officials report 2,512 total personnel have been called to work on the fire. Jake Cagle, operations section chief for the U.S. Forest Service, said crews from multiple agencies have come from across the nation to assist suppression efforts, some traveling from as far away as USFS’s Region 8 including Georgia and Florida.

“They are out there working hard for you,” he said of fire crews. “We want to put this out. I know there are rumors out there that we are just managing it and letting the fire burn. That is not the case…We want to put this fire out and go home.”

The work includes digging fire line, aerial suppression and some structure defense. Cagle said backburning by crews was only used along six miles of fire line at the southeastern corner which kept the fire from continuing eastward to the Rancho Haven and Red Rock areas.

The challenge, he said, is the difficult terrain along the fire line to the west of Doyle down to the Dixie Lookout.

“This is steep, rugged country,” Cagle said. “It takes about an hour for our resources to get in here. We’re working direct on this. This piece remains active.” That area is being targeted in the daytime with aerial efforts using helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. At night, crews on the ground use the lull in fire activity to continue establishing a containment line.

The “High Rollers” from Nevada’s Air National Guard are one of the teams helping to battle the fire by air. They are one of four military units to have their C-130 aircraft equipped with MAFFS technology—Modular Airborne Firefighting System.

Late last week they shared video taken during one of their runs over the fire.

Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience working in marketing, public relations and communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. She also serves as director of communications for Nevada Cancer Coalition, a statewide nonprofit. Though she now lives in Atlanta, she is a Nevadan for life and uses her three-hour time advantage to get a jump on the morning’s news.