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Fire Threatens Nevada Capital

An army of firefighters, helped by diminishing winds, has gained partial control over an explosive wildfire that burned 14 homes and forced evacuations of hundreds of others.

"I think it's done its worst, I really think it has," said the fire incident commander, Marty Scheuerman. "Now we can do our job."

Until late Thursday, Scheuerman added, "the fire had dictated to us what it was going to do, instead of us dictating to it."

Friday's forecast is for cooler temperatures and less-powerful winds, reports CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzalez, but officials say the fire is unpredictable and very aggressive.

Christie Kalkowski of the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center said more than 1,100 firefighters battling the 7,200-acre blaze had it 30 percent contained.

The wind-whipped fire, with flames reaching 100-feet tall, also has burned one business and 25 garages, barns and other outbuildings since it broke out before dawn Wednesday on the western edge of Nevada's capital. Five people have been injured.

On Thursday, the fire raged out of control through or near two northwest Carson neighborhoods with about 600 homes, but was stopped at a ridge separating the area from the Washoe Valley to the north.

All the homes had to be evacuated, and several hundred other homes and businesses were threatened by the fire, Kalkowski said.

"It's looking pretty scary," a woman resident said. "I went up there about a half an hour ago and decide I'd start packing my truck."

Conditions became so dangerous officials shut down the main highway from Carson City to Reno.

The cause of the fire remains unknown but Carson City sheriff's deputies were looking for teenagers who may have been in a canyon area Tuesday night, before the fire started.

"We have 20 people we are looking for age range 16 to 18 years of age," said Carson City Sheriff Jim Primka.

Several upscale properties have already burned to the ground and at one point the fire was within a mile of the governor's mansion, reports Gonzalez.

Firefighters were aided by more than two dozens planes and helicopters, including three heavy tankers.

Gov. Kenny Guinn said the fire hazard made it imperative for federal officials to quickly complete examinations of heavy air tankers recently grounded in nearby Minden. Once cleared to fly, he said those planes would be just minutes away. The big tankers fighting the fire flew in from distant locations to try to save homes and businesses.

"It just makes you sick," Guinn said Thursday. "You can't put a price tag on the misery these people who lost their homes will go through."

"You never think it's going to be you," said Robin Darney, who lost her home. "It's a grief I hope I will never feel again. But my children are safe."

One firefighter broke a leg, another suffered back and neck injuries and two others suffered burns, according to Kalkowski. A local television reporter suffered minor burns on his hands and face.

In California, a 10,000-acre wildfire that forced 600 people from their homes continued to threaten rural hamlets on the edge of the Angeles National Forest early Friday.

The fire was 40 percent contained. Southwest winds blew embers along the smoldering ridgeline and expanded the fire Thursday, wiping out advances that 1,000 firefighters had made earlier in the day.

The fire had destroyed at least one motorhome and a building since it began Monday.

In Alaska, fire crews continued to fight 75 separate blazes, seven of them 100,000 acres or larger. One fire had spread to within 15 miles of Fairbanks and expanded to half the size of Rhode Island, blackening more than 379,000 acres.

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