Crews contain Reno fire that claimed 29 homes

By Martin Griffin and Scott Sonner/The Associated Press

RENO, Nev. — Rain and snow have helped firefighters surround a brush fire near Reno that destroyed 29 homes and forced the evacuation of thousands.

Fire officials declared the Washoe Fire contained early Saturday. All evacuations were lifted and U.S. 395, a main highway between Reno and Carson City, reopened.

Authorities say an “extremely remorseful” elderly man admitted to accidentally starting the fire Thursday when he improperly discarded fireplace ashes at his home south of town.

Flames reaching up to 40 feet were whipped by hurricane force winds through a region that hadn’t seen precipitation in months.

Officials say the body of 93-year-old June Hargis was found in the fire’s aftermath, but it wasn’t immediately known if her death was fire related.