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Entries in Reno (11)

Saturday
Jan212012

Elderly Man Admits to Accidentally Starting Reno Brush Fire

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- An elderly man has come forward and admitted to accidentally starting a blaze that burned nearly 3,200 acres and forced the evacuation of 10,000 people in Reno, Nev., officials said Saturday.

Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said the man, who has yet to be identified, came forward Friday on his own and confessed to improperly discarding fireplace ashes outside of his home in the north end of the Washoe Valley, about 20 miles south of town.

The blaze, which started Thursday, was fueled by wind gusts of up to 82 mph and what officials are calling the state's driest winter in 120 years, destroyed 29 homes.

"He has given statements to our investigators as well as law enforcement officers," Hernandez said. "He is extremely remorseful."

Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley said the case will be forwarded to the district attorney's office next week for consideration. The man could face arson charges that would include repayment of the cost of fighting the fire, which now stands at $690,000, but is estimated to reach totals in the millions.

"The DA will have to give this case a lot of deliberation. The fact that he came forward and admitted it plays a role, but so does the massive damage and loss of life. It's a balancing act," Haley said.

Hernandez estimated the fire to be 65 percent contained Friday night, thanks to calmer winds, but more than 300 firefighters and 125 support staff, including law enforcement and members of the Nevada National Guard, were still fighting the fire and checking for hot spots.

Of those evacuated, 2,000 people are still unable to return to their homes.

Highway 395 between Reno and Carson City, closed near the area where the brush fire began, was reopened late Friday night, but, according to Nevada State police, many other roads are still closed.

"The number one thing for us is public safety," Trooper Michael Edgell said. "We've got dozens of power poles that have been burned, that are draped across the landscape, that are borderline dripping onto the highway."

The forecast for rain and snow Saturday presented a new challenge to fire crews, with flooding possible in the burned areas.

Officials said the fire was almost identical to one that ripped through the area in mid-November that destroyed 30 homes and burned 2,000 acres. Fire crews were aided in controlling that blaze by snowfall.

Hernandez said crews were able to prevent the fire from spreading any further, containing it to about six square miles, but officials said it is shocking to see the amount of damage.

"You take so many things for granted," Edgell said. "You get used to your scenery and when you drive through here, and you actually see what the fire has done that it's just amazing to me that the fire can do so much damage."

The evacuation center set up at Damonte Ranch High School was closed and evacuees unable to find a place to stay were provided hotel rooms by the Red Cross. One hundred people in the Reno area remain without power.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan202012

Nevada Fire Destroys 20 Homes in Reno; 10K Forced to Evacuate

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- Authorities in Reno, Nev. are battling a wind-whipped brush fire that forced the evacuation of about 10,000 people and destroyed at least 20 homes.

The fire started about noon Thursday in an area near U.S. Highway 395. The highway is expected to remain closed on Friday.

The blaze has burned at least 3,700 acres.  Officials confirmed one fatality but said it was unclear whether it was fire related.

Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said firefighters have stopped the progression of the fire, but there are still acres of hot spots.

"This is not to say that the fire is 100 percent contained and extinguished.  Only that the 'active burn' or the areas at the leading edge of the fire have been halted," he said.

But Hernandez said they were able to save 800 homes that were directly in the burn areas.

"To say we are in the thick of battle is an understatement," Hernandez told reporters at a news conference overnight.

The fire also cut short a speech by Vice President Joe Biden Thursday.  Biden was giving a speech at Galena High School about college costs when the school was evacuated.

"They have just told me if I don't let you guys get out of here relatively soon they're going to make you get out of here," Biden said.

Fire officials said Thursday's fire was similar to a fire that ripped through southwest Reno in November.  That fire also forced the evacuation of about 10,000 people.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov192011

Overnight Flurries Help Firefighters Battle Reno Blaze

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- Overnight snowfall helped extinguish the last of the "hotspots" in an upscale neighborhood of Reno, Nev., on Friday.

Nearly 10,000 people were forced to evacuate in the Reno area because of a sudden wildfire that spread over thousands of acres. The fire destroyed two dozen homes, and an elderly man died of a heart attack.

Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have declared the fire a major disaster on Friday.

"The people are in a state of shock and are hanging in there," said Sandoval.

Chilly temperatures, calmer winds and snow flurries have increased hopes that the fire will be totally contained over the weekend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov182011

Strong Winds Fuel Reno Fire

File photo. Hemera/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- High winds are fanning a Nevada wildfire that is threatening the city of Reno and has chased 10,000 people from their homes.

About 400 firefighters are battling the blaze, which is being fed by wind gusts up to 70 mph. Those gusts are sending embers off to ignite fresh fires. The heavy smoke and the winds have grounded rescue helicopters.

The winds are expected to remain strong Friday and Fire Chief Mike Hernandez said he expects the fires to persist through Saturday.

Fire crews from local departments as well as state and federal crews or working in tandem to contain the blaze.

The blaze, which erupted about 12:30 a.m. local time, has scorched over 2,000 acres, destroyed 30 homes and sent hundreds of families through the eerie glow and smoky haze to shelters. Several people have been injured, and at least one death has been reported, that of a man who suffered a heart attack as he fled the flames during the police-led evacuation.

Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have declared the fire a major disaster.

"The people are in a state of shock and are hanging in there," said Sandoval.

The weather has even made the safety of the emergency responders a concern.  "We have all this wild wind," said Rita Vollmer of the Sierra Front Inter-Agency Dispatch Center. "The safety of our emergency crews is very important. They're fighting the fire directly as they can, but the crews are making those decisions on the ground."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep212011

11th Person Dies from Reno Air Show Plane Crash

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- The death toll keeps rising from the stunt plane crash at last Friday's National Championship Air Races and Air Show in Reno, Nevada.

The Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office announced Tuesday that an 11th person had died as a result of the accident that occurred when the pilot of a World War II-era P-51 Mustang Galloping Ghost apparently lost control of his aircraft and slammed into the VIP section of the stands.

Stunt pilot James Leeward, 74, was killed instantly.  Of the 10 spectators who also perished, two have still not been identified.

Another 70 people were also injured in the crash, and several remain in critical condition.

The National Safety Transportation Board has not yet determined what caused the plane to crash.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep192011

Tenth Person Dies after Reno Air Race Plane Crash

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev) -- A tenth person has died from injuries sustained when a stunt plane crashed at the Reno Air Race.

News of the death comes as investigators have turned their attention to pilot Jimmy Leeward, who may have been unconscious when his World War 2-era P-51 Mustang smashed into a crowd of spectators, killing him and nine others.

Leeward was traveling as fast as 500 miles an hour when he crashed, killing fans seated in the VIP seats on the tarmac. Leeward, 74, of Ocala, Fla., was a veteran stuntman.

Witnesses said that as the P-51 Mustang Galloping Ghost rounded the final clubhouse turn, something dropped off the tail of the plane, and that that may have been what caused the problem.

In one of the final photos taken before the crash, a piece of metal -- crucial for the aircraft to maintain balance -- appears to be missing. Investigators said that they recovered a damaged "elevator trim tab" among the debris.

In a video posted on YouTube in June, Leeward described how he had modified the old propeller plane to make it fly as fast as a jet.

Leeward's age and medical history may also prove relevant to their investigation, according to NTSB officials, while ABC News consultant and former pilot Steve Ganyard said that he is concerned that Leeward was not conscious during the crash.

"There is no pilot's head in that cockpit. It tells me that he was likely unconscious, slumped over the controls," Ganyard said.

National Transportation Safety Board officials said that the airplane had a recording system, and a box containing memory cards was found at the scene of the crash. Investigators say they'll analyze the cards to see if there is any footage that could explain what happened.

NTSB investigators said the plane was outfitted with a forward facing camera, which they were able to recover, along with the memory cards. They say it had a rudimentary data system and that these discoveries together may provide their best answers yet as to what happened in those final moments before the crash.

Investigators say the plane was equipped with a basic flight data system, which was recording real-time velocity, altitude, and engine performance information.

Investigators said that they'll be looking not just at the plane and the pilot, but also the regulations for these air races to determine what, if any, changes might make them safer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep192011

Plane's Video Memory Cards Could Hold Clues to Reno Crash

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- The World War II-era stunt plane that crashed into a grandstand near Reno, Nevada, killing nine, was equipped with a video camera that could help investigators learn what led to the crash.

National Transportation Safety Board officials said Sunday that the airplane had a recording system, and a box containing memory cards was found at the scene of the crash.

Investigators say they'll analyze the cards to see if there is any footage that could explain what happened.

The crash happened Friday during an air race in Reno, injuring a total of 69 people seated in the VIP seats on the tarmac.  Witnesses said that as the P-51 Mustang Galloping Ghost piloted by Jimmy Leeward rounded the final clubhouse turn, something dropped off the tail of the plane, and that that may have been what caused the problem.

NTSB investigators recovered a component in the area where witnesses say they saw something drop.  Officials said it's unclear whether this is connected to the plane that crashed or another one.

The tragedy in Reno was another near miss for Commander Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head earlier this year in Tucson.  Kelly was scheduled to fly a P-51 similar to the one that crashed at the Reno air show, though he was not going to be racing.  He apparently did not witness the crash.

As investigators work to piece together what caused the crash, officials are also looking into another fatal air show crash this weekend.

A day after the air race crash in Reno, an antique plane crashed at an air show in Martinsburg, West Virginia, Saturday.  Pilot John Mangan was flying a 1958 T-28 Warbird when it suddenly crashed after completing an acrobatic move with another T-28.  Mangan was killed.  No other injuries were reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep182011

Reno Air Race Crash: Investigators Comb Through Debris

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- Investigators in Nevada today are continuing to comb the accident site where a stunt plane crashed during an air race in Reno.

Nine people died including the pilot when a World War II era plane crashed into the VIP seats on the tarmac Friday. A total of 69 people were injured.

Eyewitnesses said that as the P-51 Mustang Galloping Ghost piloted by Jimmy Leeward rounded the final clubhouse turn, something dropped off the tail of the plane, and that that may have been what caused the problem.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators recovered a component in the area where witnesses say they saw something drop.

Officials said it's unclear whether this is connected to this plane or another one.

NTSB investigators say they may not have a flight data recorder. But the numerous photos and personal video accounts from spectators will assist officials in the investigation.

"That will be a huge help for us," said NTSB spokesman Mark Rosekind.

In fact, the photos appear to support eyewitness accounts that pieces of the P51's tail started falling off.

"Pictures and video appear to show a piece of the plane was coming off," Rosekind said at a news conference. "A component has been recovered. We have not identified the component or if it even came from the airplane ... We are going to focus on that."

The tragedy in Reno was another near miss for Commander Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head earlier this year in Tucson.

Kelly was scheduled to fly a p51 similar to the one that crashed, though he was not racing.

He apparently did not witness the crash.

As investigators work to piece together what caused the crash, officials are also looking into another fatal air show crash this weekend.

A day after the air race crash in Reno, an antique plane crashed at an air show in Martinsburg, West Va., Saturday.

Pilot John Mangan was flying a 1958 T-28 Warbird, when it suddenly crashed after completing an acrobatic move with another T-28. Mangan was killed. No other injuries were reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep172011

Reno, Nevada Air Show Crash: 3 Dead More Than 50 Hurt

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- At least three people are dead and more than 50 people were injured after a World War II era fighter plane plunged into the spectator crowd at an air show in Reno, Nevada.

Officials at the National Championship Air Race said a mechanical failure may have caused the P-51 Mustang plane "Galloping Ghost" piloted by Jimmy Leeward, to plummet out of the sky Friday afternoon and crash into the viewer grandstands.

Reno Air Races president Mike Houghton said the plane was on course before the accident occurred.

"Speculation has gone on a different number of different areas to what took place. Different people see different things. But there appear to be some air-flight problem with the aircraft that caused it to go out of control," Houghton said.

Leeward, 74, a real estate developer from Ocala, Fla. was killed in the crash along with two other people.

Houghton described Leeward as "a very experienced and talented and qualified pilot" whose "medical records and everything are up-to-date, spot-on."

At least 56 people were taken to local hospitals, including 15 in critical condition and another 13 were listed in serious condition.

Authorities said it's possible the number of injuries may be even higher because some people left for the hospital in private vehicles.

Connie Camit had just left the grandstand for a refreshment stand with two of her children, 14 and 5, ABC News Radio reported.

"Just as we were standing there, we heard this big crash, turned around and I saw airplane pieces, parts flying everywhere," she said. "We just heard everybody screaming, sirens. It was just chaos, complete chaos."

Eyewitness Gerald Lent was on the scene and described the moments before the crash.

"It pulled straight up and did an upside down roll. It looked like no one was flying the plane. It game straight down toward the grandstand," Lent said.

Republican Senator Dean Heller flew to Reno after the accident and said he wants to be part of investigations into the safety of the event.

"I do not want to see this event here in northern Nevada come to an end. I think it has history, I think people have enjoyed it over the years," he said. "But how do you get over, how do you get over a tragic event like this? And that's what's going to be decided in the next six months."

Federal investigators will be at the scene of the crash Saturday.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those that lost their lives or were injured in this accident," National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind said in a taped message.

Air show officials have been canceled the rest of remaining events for the weekend.

"The National Championship extends their deepest sympathies and condolences to all of the families involved in today's tragic accident. The Air Races are truly one big family and our thoughts are with all of our aviation family members, immediate and extended," air show officials said in a statement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep162011

Reports of Injury, Mass Casualties at Reno Air Show

A P51 Mustang similar to those shown above, crashed at The National Championship Air Race in Reno, NV. Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- Dozens are injured with many possibly in critical condition Friday after a small plane crashed at the Reno National Championship Air Races. As many as 12 are dead and 80-100 injured, according to local reports.

The plane's pilot, Jimmy Leeward, was racing the P-51 Mustang, when the aircraft crashed near the grandstand, where air show spectators were seated, witnesses say.

Authorities on the scene have asked everyone at the air show to leave the Reno-Stead Airport, and all planes have been grounded.

Story is developing…

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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