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Team of firefighters from across the West oversee 3 wildfires burning near Pyramid Lake

The Winnemucca Ranch Fire can be seen burning in the Palomino Valley north of Reno at 9:05 p.m. Tuesday, July 4, 2017 (Image: AlertTahoe / Nevada Seismological Lab)

Firefighters have taken over Mendive Middle School in Sparks. The school is acting as an incident command post for all three of the fires burning near Pyramid Lake.

Firefighters are pitching tents on the sports field behind the school before they head back out to the fire lines in the morning.

The Great Basin Incident Management team has taken over control of three fires that have now burned more than 100,000 acres combined. The team is overseeing the Winnemucca Ranch Fire, the Earthstone Fire, and the Truckee Fire.

Fire officials came together at Mendive Middle School on Thursday night to discuss how much progress crews made throughout the day. They decided to officially lift the evacuation orders for the Winnemucca Ranch Fire.

Officials also talked about the investigation into the causes of these fires.

Investigators have already determined the Earthstone Fire was human-caused, but officials are still looking into the causes of the Winnemucca Ranch Fire and the Truckee Fire.

Great Basin Incident Management Team Public Information Officer Mark Regan explained what kind of tactics investigators use to determine the cause of a wildfire. He said they can often determine the cause "by looking at some of the burn patterns on the hillside on the vegetation. There's certain indications on vegetation that we can look at that will help direct us to where the fire started. Also by rocks, landscape out there."

Regan said once investigators determine the origin of the fire, they can dig down into the dirt to try to find indications of the cause.

Fire officials said they don't believe the Winnemucca Ranch Fire was caused naturally because there weren't any recorded lightning strikes in the area around the time the fire sparked.

They're reminding people to be extra careful this time of year when using electrical equipment like weed eaters or lawn mowers or even when driving an old car or ATV. They said even the smallest spark can start one of these massive fires.


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