Nothing left but each other: Mother and daughter's tender hug after home is wiped out amid blackened trail of devastation
Surrounded by burning ash and debris, a devastated mother and daughter tenderly hug amidst the blackened rubble which was once their home.
But Karen Reuter and her daughter Madeleine Perry are not the only ones who have been left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Over 30 families are facing the same fate after their homes were also burned to the ground in a massive inferno which swept through the mountains of northwest Nevada.
Heartbreak: Madeleine Perry (left) and her mother Karen Reuter (right) comfort each other as they look over the remains of Karen's mother's burned home in Reno
The true horror of the damage caused by the blaze, which forced thousands to flee their homes yesterday, was only revealed as the blacked skies started to clear this morning.
An elderly man died after suffering a fatal cardiac arrest after evacuating, the only fatally known to have been claimed during the raging fire.
An evaluation of the 2,000-acre burn on Saturday found much more destruction and damage than had been initially reported, Reno Fire Chief Mike Hernandez said.
The estimated number of homes destroyed in a wind-fueled wildfire has more than doubled to a total of 32, but Gov. Brian Sandoval said it's a miracle scores more were not lost.
The unusual, out-of-season blaze spread by gale-force winds and ripped through the Sierra foothills early Friday, forcing the evacuation of nearly 10,000 people. Most started returning to their homes today.
‘This was not only a wild land, urban-interface type fire, it was also a metro fire where we had homes that were actively burning in densely populated areas,’ Hernandez said.
'Many families ‘had to leave in the middle of the night with very, very limited possessions and they are coming back to devastation, to nothing,’ he said.
‘So our hearts and prayers go out to those families.’
The governor said after a helicopter tour of the area on Saturday that while the loss of homes was tragic, the 400 firefighters on the lines are heroes for saving more than 4,000 houses that could have burned in the blaze that investigators suspect was started by arcing power lines.
Destruction: Neighbours Joanna Irwin (left) and Bonnie Richards (right) have been left with nothing after their homes were burned to the ground in Reno
Devastated: Joelle Greene is overcome with emotion as she discover what is left of her home after it was destroyed in the massive inferno which swept through the mountains of northwest Nevada
‘When you see something like that, you can't help but be struck by the awesome and random power of nature,’ Sandoval said about the blackened path of the fire that snaked along the edge of the foothills.
In some cases one home was burnt to the ground while neighboring houses on either side went untouched.
‘It is nothing short of a miracle the amount of homes that have been saved,’ he said.
‘We're right around the corner from Thanksgiving and I think we in this community have a lot to be thankful for.’
After his tour of the area, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., agreed a saying ‘There are a lot of people we need thank that it wasn't worse than it was,’
Despair: Joanna Irwin (left) and Tim Galvin (right) comfort each other as they look over the remains of their burned home in Reno after it was engulfed in the blaze
Destroyed: The remains of Joanna Irwin and Tim Galvin's burned home in Reno, Nevada, one of 32 houses destroyed in the wind-fuelled wildfire
Reno Mayor Bob Cashell praised the firefighters for a quick response and thanked the numerous communities — from sometimes hundreds of miles away — for dispatching crews and engines to help.
‘This fire was out of control the second it started, but in a short time the first responders were there and everybody stepped up,’ Cashell said.
‘Elko, Fallon, Fernley — everyone who had a fire truck, they sent it.’
Hernandez said there is no official cause yet, but all signs point to the power lines.
Aftermath: Fresh snow covers a burned home after a wildfire raging at the edge of a hilly Reno suburb forced 10,000 people to flee their homes yesterday
Raging inferno: Thousands were evacuated from the gambling mecca after a state of emergency was declared yesterday
He said investigators ruled out the possibility that teenage revellers or a homeless campfire was to blame.
The fire was 80 percent contained Saturday and should be put out fully by the middle of next week, fire officials said.
Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said he was impressed by the coordinated effort by so many different agencies, especially far removed from the normal summer wildfire season in Nevada.
‘You don't appreciate it until you have the major metropolitan area in the northern Nevada being threatened by wildfire in late November,’ he said.
Kristina Wright, 22, was among the evacuees returning Saturday to her home, which was not damaged.
Heroes: : The 400 firefighters on the lines have been hailed as 'heroes' for saving more than 4,000 houses that could have burned in the blaze
Trail of destruction: Dozens of families have been left homeless and one man has died after a massive balze ripped through Reno yesterday
She said she fell asleep Thursday night listening to the TV weatherman's forecast for possible snow on the valley floor where she lives on edge of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
‘I thought I'd wake up to scrape my windshield not be told to evacuate because there was a fire behind my house,’ Wright said.
More than two miles separated some of the damaged homes as the winds with gusts in excess of 70 mph spread burning embers down the Sierra front and through a patchwork of canyons and ravines on the city's southwest side.
‘I watched a house catch on fire on the ridge,’ said Wright, who lives in a neighborhood just below the aptly named Windy Hill about five miles south of the downtown casino district.
‘It was like a tornado,’ she told The Associated Press. ‘I couldn't stand up. I couldn't even open my car door without it slamming me.’
‘The deputy said 'Go get your animals and call into work. Your neighborhood is next. With the way the winds are an ember could hit your roof and spark at any time,’ Wright said.