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Unexploded Ordnance Slowing Fire Containment Efforts

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Hundreds of people evacuated from a Sierra resort town in the face of a 6,500 acre wildfire intend to return to their homes in Walker this afternoon. But the fire is still burning out of control in the mountains and U.S. Highway 395 remains closed.

Some of the evacuees say they are in no rush to return to their homes in Walker after making a narrow escape from the wind-whipped flames last night.

Dan McCall helped his girlfriend gather up the pets, important papers and photographs before fleeing Walker last night. He told The Associated Press, “The flames were coming down the mountain toward the town so it was time to go.” He says he could feel the heat and hear the roar of the flames.

Jim Reinhardt of the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center based in Minden, Nevada says the fire came within 100 feet of U.S. Highway 395 in Walker late Sunday night, but that crews beat it back. The highway remains closed from Bridgeport, north to near the Nevada state line.

The fire broke out Saturday in a remote section of the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest the U.S. Marines use for survival training, about 25-miles northwest of Bridgeport.

Officials for the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho say unexploded ordnance in the rugged Sierra area is slowing containment efforts. The agency says the fire was “human” caused but has no other details. The fire was estimated to be only seven percent contained at midday today as 600 firefighters continued to battle the blaze with the help of three airtankers and eight helicopters. Full containment was projected Thursday night.

Fire officials initially reported two residences had been destroyed in the fire, but revised that today to say the fire has destroyed one home, a two-car garage, one travel trailer and two outbuildings in the Walker area.

Firefighters said at a meeting with about 100 evacuees at the Topaz Lodge north of the fire this morning, that they should be able to return to Walker Monday afternoon. But they cautioned that could change if the winds pick up again.