RENO — The worst fears of emergency workers dealing with the aftermath of a brush fire south of Reno that destroyed 29 homes won’t be realized as the threat of flash floods has vanished, forecasters said Sunday.
Officials had feared storms that helped crews contain the 3,200-acre fire Saturday also could bring enough rain to cause flooding in burned areas after one of the driest winters in Reno history.
But the next storm should drop mostly snow instead of rain on the burn area today , and no significant precipitation was expected the rest of the week, said Mark Deutschendorf, a National Weather Service forecaster. The forecast called for 3 to 6 inches of snow on valley floors around Reno today .
“When the snow melts, it’ll happen at a slow enough rate that it won’t cause flash flooding. Runoff from rain would be much worse,” Deutschendorf said.
Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley said his office will forward a report this week to prosecutors on the older man who admitted to accidentally starting the blaze Thursday by improperly discarding fireplace ashes outside his Washoe Valley home.
“They (prosecutors) will look to see if it’s in the interest of justice to prosecute him,” Haley said .
Authorities have described the man, whose name was not released, as being extremely remorseful.
Haley said prosecutors will have to balance the fact that the man stepped forward to admit his role in the fire against the fact that the blaze caused millions of dollars in damage and a possible fatality.
June Hargis, 93, was found dead in a studio apartment next to her daughter’s home in Washoe Valley.
While her family said they have no doubt her death was caused by the fire, Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said her cause of death has not been established, so it’s not known if it was fire-related. No other fatalities or major injuries were reported.
The fire, whipped by gusts of up to 82 mph, forced 10,000 people to flee the flames and shut down a section of U.S. Highway 395. The highway has since been reopened.