VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. Erratic winds, inaccessible terrain and numerous mine shafts were hampering firefighters in their battle against a 1,500-acre wildfire near the historic mining town of Virginia City.
The lightning-caused blaze continued Sunday to threaten the community of Mark Twain below Virginia City, fire information officer Mark Struble said.
There is a potential threat to 200 residences and 50 outbuildings, he said Sunday. However, no structures are immediately threatened and any evacuations are strictly voluntary at this point.
While it burned within two miles of Virginia City, the fire also posed no immediate threat to one of the West’s richest and most famous mining towns of the 19th century, Struble said.
The Six Mile 2 fire shut down Six-Mile Canyon Road linking Virginia City and Mark Twain. Nevada Route 341 remained open to Virginia City from both U.S. 395 and U.S. 50.
The blaze was 5 percent contained Sunday afternoon, and officials provided no estimate on when full containment would be reached.
Mine shafts and abandoned mines were posing safety hazards for more than 500 firefighters, Struble said. No injuries were reported.
Crews were facing challenges because of gusty winds and difficulty accessing roadless terrain where the fire was burning brush as well as pinyon-juniper woodlands, he added.
Virginia City, now a major tourist attraction, was the scene of one of the world’s greatest silver rushes ever.
Its Comstock Lode, a massive, underground pocket of gold and silver discovered in 1859, has yielded 8 million ounces of gold and 200 million ounces of silver, worth more than $8 billion in today’s dollars.
The wealth it generated went to help finance the Union cause during the Civil War and to build San Francisco.