US & Canada

Nevada fires prompt evacuations as Reno homes destroyed

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Media captionA state-wide emergency is declared in Nevada, as a wildfire rips through parts of Reno

A wildfire in the US state of Nevada has destroyed 25 homes and forced nearly 10,000 people to leave the area.

One man died fleeing his home and 16 have been hospitalised in a fire that spread over 2,000 acres (809 hectares).

The blaze has now been contained, authorities say, with intermittent snowfall helping to put out the flames.

On Thursday night, several wildfires in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range spread to Reno on the valley floor, fanned by strong winds.

The wind, with gusts of up to 60mph (97km/h), made it difficult to contain the fire and grounded firefighter helicopters.

Dust and smoke

One resident, Dick Hecht, told the Associated Press news agency it was so windy he could hardly stand.

"The whole mountain was on fire,"he said, "It was so smoky, you couldn't hardly see."

Reno spokeswoman Michele Anderson said: "The wind is horrific. We just watched a semi [trailer truck] nearly blow over on the freeway."

Local police and around 100 members of the Nevada National Guard knocked on doors in the early hours of Friday morning to speed the evacuations.

A 74-year-old man died of a heart attack while fleeing his home and a firefighter has suffered serious burns while trying to put out the blaze, officials say.

Local health officials have warned residents to stay at home and reduce their physical activity, since dust and smoke in the air are affecting downwind neighbourhoods.

More than 4,000 people are without power, as electrical wires and poles were burnt down in the fire.

However, Reno Mayor Bob Cashell said evacuees would be able to begin returning to their homes from midday on Saturday.

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