A fast-moving brush fire in Nevada has destroyed more than 20 homes and forced thousands of residents to evacuate.
The wildfire moved quickly into the Carson City and Reno areas. Dry conditions and hurricane-strength winds as high as 80 mph are fueling the flames.
Reno has gone a record 56 days without any precipitation until light snow fell earlier this week.
That scene has been replaced by flames shooting as high as 40 feet in the air along the city's Highway 395, some almost reaching the cars driving by.
"I can feel the heat. It's really hot," one driver said.
"This was a wind-driven event, and it was an extreme challenge," Mark Regan, spokesman for the Sierra Fire Protection District, said.
Eventually, officials closed 11 miles of the highway. More than 10,000 residents were also evacuated. Thousands more remain without power.
One death in the area has been reported, but it's unclear if the fire is to blame.
"We extend our hearts and our sympathies to the individuals that have been negatively impacted by this event," Regan said.
Firefighters said they have been able to save 800 homes, and the fire is now about 50 percent contained. Nearly 4,000 acres have been burned.
The wildfire started shortly after noon, Thursday. Vice President Joe Biden was at a news conference at a local high school when aides abruptly gave him news of the fire.
"They've just told me if I don't let you guys get out of here relatively soon, they're going to make you get out of here," Biden said.
Firefighters stopped the flames right at the back steps of the high school.
Meanwhile, Nevada's governor declared a state of emergency.
The fire remains under investigation. While officials determine the cause of the blaze, those in the heat of battle hope precipitation expected soon will make their jobs a lot easier.