November 18, 2011 / 6:36 PM / 8 years ago

Nevada declares emergency over out-of-control wildfire

RENO, Nev (Reuters) - Nevada’s governor declared a state of emergency on Friday because of a wildfire burning out of control outside of Reno that has destroyed 20 structures, forced 9,500 people from their homes and was blamed for the death of one man.

The Caughlin Fire in northern Nevada broke out overnight and has already blackened more than 400 acres as it moves toward heavily populated areas, said Michele Anderson, spokeswoman for Reno Mayor Bob Cashell.

“The firefighters are battling with extremely high winds right now that are also extremely erratic,” Anderson said. “Additionally you’ve got obviously embers sparking additional fire and so that’s why the main focus of firefighters right now is making sure homes are protected.”

Anderson said two evacuation centers had been set up for affected residents, and several people had been treated for smoke inhalation.

An elderly man died during the evacuation process, said Chris Good, a spokesman for the city of Reno. The city said the fire was burning uncontrolled.

Governor Brian Sandoval requested and received approval for federal assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), he said in a statement.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been and are being affected by this fire,” Sandoval said on his website.

Air quality readings were elevated and residents are encouraged to stay indoors, Anderson said.

Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Mary Slosson; Writing by Mary Slosson; Editing by Greg McCune and Cynthia Johnston

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