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Tamarack Fire Update: Wind-Whipped Flames Cross Into Nevada; Firefighters Digging In Along Highway 395

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Nevada (CBS SF) -- The advancing flames of the Tamarack Fire crossed over into Nevada early Wednesday, forcing voluntary evacuation warnings for several small communities to the west of the Highway 395 corridor.

During his Wednesday morning briefing, Operations Section Chief Pat Seekins said the rugged terrain along the Nevada-California state line on the northeastern edge of the massive blaze was challenging for the fire crews.

"As we get into the northeast things get a little different, we get into fairly tougher ground," he said. "Fairly steep and rugged terrain. Some thicker fuels. This fire was very active yesterday. The fire picked up early, late morning and extended through the afternoon and evening."

"The fire really wanted to push toward the (California-Nevada) state line and really get out there and get established. It was very active along the entire perimeter."

Last night, the fire crossed the Leviathan Mine Road and made its way into Nevada. By daybreak, it was approximately 3 miles west of Hwy 395.

Crews were dispatched to the Highway 395 corridor where they built fire breaks to protect homes.

Voluntary evacuations were issued for all residents in Leviathan Mine Rd. west of Hwy 395 and Holbrook Junction areas of Douglas County last night.

The fire has burned 39,000 acres, but that number was expected to grow significantly after observation flights during the afternoon. There was zero containment and over 1,200 personnel on the fire lines.

On the California side of the fire, crews were attempting to halt the blaze's drive toward Woodfords.

Crews were engaged in structure protection in Sierra Pines, Woodfords, Mesa Vista, Markleeville and Grover Hot Springs.

As fire advanced, evacuated local residents were escorted to their homes by Alpine County deputies to grab what they could before were forced to leave once again.

"There's not that many of us that live here," said Woodfords resident Eric Guth. "There's less than 350 people...It moved away from the homes, but now it's coming back at the homes and they're going to make us get out again. So we've got 10 minutes to get in and get what we can get and then it's time to leave."

Tim Lovell was allowed a quick visit to his home in Markleeville. It's still standing, but he recalled his frightening escape on Friday.

"They were just trying to get us out as fast as they can and after I looked outside and saw the flames coming over that tree, it was time to burn rubber," he said.

Lovell was also upset that the initial fire was allowed to smolder for days before it roared to life.

"This process that we seem to have in California is like 'Let it burn,'" he said. "Well, this is what happens. Look what happened in Paradise. We were almost a Paradise."

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