Semitruck’s faulty exhaust system may have sparked big Nevada wildfire

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Burned ground after Numbers Fire
Although Nevada’s Numbers Fire is at 100% containment at 18,380 acres, fire vehicles and heavy equipment will be completing suppression repair work over the next few days. (Courtesy: Carson City District Office Bureau of Land Management)

GARDNERVILLE, Nev. — Federal fire investigators believe a faulty exhaust system on a semitruck sparked the Nevada wildfire along U.S. Highway 395 last week that destroyed three homes and burned more than 28 square miles (72 square kilometers) of mostly rangeland and rugged terrain near the California state line.

The fire, which is now at 100% containment, has become widely known as the “Numbers Fire.”

In a news release, the East Fork Fire Protection District reported that investigators have gathered physical evidence indicating that a semitruck, while operating southbound on U.S. 395, most likely experienced a failure in its exhaust system. This possible failure allowed hot particles to be discharged along the highway right-of-way, igniting dry grass and brush along the Sierra’s eastern front.

The fire was detected just before 7 p.m. on July 6 near the Pine View Estates south of Gardnerville, along with several other small fires along U.S. 395. No injuries were reported, but 37 outbuildings were destroyed, along with the three residences.

Investigators with the East Fork Fire Protection District, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service worked together over the past week to determine the origin and cause of the fires.

The (Gardnerville) Record-Courier first reported last week that authorities believed a vehicle dragging something may have sparked the fire.

Investigators said on July 13 that they’re continuing to seek details about the incident and are asking anyone who may have seen a semitruck heading south on U.S. 395 in the area about 6:45 p.m. on July 6 to contact officials at [email protected].

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