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Lightning-sparked fire continues to grow at Great Basin National Park

The National Park Service reports that a lightning strike is to blame for a wildfire that continues to grow at the northeastern edge of Great Basin National Park.

As of Wednesday night, the Strawberry Fire had burned about 4,700 acres about five miles west of the town of Baker.

Almost 350 firefighters are battling the fire with the help of an air tanker, four helicopters, nine engines, three water tenders and a bulldozer. The agencies involved include the Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Nevada Division of Forestry and a private contractor.

The blaze was first reported at 12:30 p.m. Monday and has spread through the Strawberry Creek Campground and onto BLM land adjacent to the national park, about 300 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Chris Hanefeld, spokesman for the BLM in Ely, said the fire was burning through white fir, pinion-juniper, sagebrush and grasses, but does not pose a threat to any structures.

Hanefeld said the fire is about 20 percent contained. Full containment is expected to take a little more than a week.

The popular Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive remains closed above the Upper Lehman Campground, as does the Wheeler Peak Campground and the hiking trail leading to it from Upper Lehman.

Lehman Caves and the adjacent visitor center remain open, and events scheduled in the park on Thursday night and Saturday were expected to continue as planned.

It is the first major fire at Great Basin National Park since 2013, when a lightning-sparked blaze on BLM land spread into the southern end of the park and burned about 5,000 acres.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

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