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Winds, heat hamper fight to contain Southwest wildfires

James Glover / Reuters

An Army National Guard helicopter drops water on the Topaz Ranch Estates Fire as it burns in the canyons above Wellington, Nevada, on May 23, 2012.

Reuters reports — Fire crews hampered by wind gusts and the driest conditions in two decades in the U.S. Southwest made slow gains on Wednesday battling dangerous forest and brush fires, including a wildfire in Nevada that doubled in size overnight and destroyed 17 buildings and two homes.

The Topaz Ranch Estates wildfire is just 15 percent contained and poses a threat in foothills that are the driest they have been in 20 years, authorities said.

See earlier pictures of the Nevada fire on PhotoBlog

"We're doing everything we can to keep it on the hill, but it could jump the line or come out the canyon," said Mark Regan, a battalion chief with the Lake Tahoe Fire Department.

"It's very steep terrain," Regan said, adding that fire engines cannot access the area, and firefighters have to hike on rough terrain to reach the blaze. Read the full story.

James Glover / Reuters

A motorcycle sits in a burned out home on Sandstone Drive where the Topaz Ranch Estates Fire burned through Wellington, Nevada on May 23, 2012.