South Sugarloaf Fire Near Elko, Nevada, Burning at 80,000 Acres, Map

The South Sugarloaf fire started burning Friday afternoon roughly 20 miles from Owyhee, Nevada, near Elko. Less than a week later, the fire was burning across nearly 80,000 acres.

The fire was likely caused by lightning, officials said. As of Wednesday was just 20 percent contained as it burned 78,000 acres in Nevada near the state's border with Idaho. The estimated date of containment was set for Friday, August 31, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.

Flames are being fueled by brush and tall grass in the area, which allowed the fire to travel rapidly.

"Extreme fire behavior was observed to today with 40-foot flame lengths and spread rates of three to six mph," the NWCG said in an update Wednesday.

Several evacuations have been called for the areas where the flames have traveled. The fire traveled south and east due to strong winds on Wednesday, prompting authorities to close Nevada State Route 225 from Milepost 82 to Owyhee. The area of Maggie Summit Road from the Baker Ranch to Nevada State Route 226 was also closed.

Since the fire started, one firefighter sustained a minor burn injury and was transported to the hospital for care. There are 430 people working to contain the fire, which has caused reduced visibility in the area. Civilian air traffic out of Owyhee Airport was also canceled due to poor flight conditions.

Limited visibility also meant that those fighting the fire were limited in the equipment they could use against the flames and only helicopters could be used for dumping operations Wednesday.

south sugarloaf fire
The South Sugarloaf fire was burning close to 80,000 acres of land Wednesday after only burning for less than a week. InciWeb

The air quality near Elko on Thursday was listed as "moderate," according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A moderate air quality index, or AQI, means that the air quality is acceptable, and OK for most people, but those who have health concerns or are highly sensitive to pollution could feel the potential impacts of the poor air quality.

Other parts of the state had "unhealthy for sensitive groups" and "unhealthy" air quality ratings as well. The air quality was being impacted by fires raging across the border in California and in Oregon and Washington as well. The particles and smoke from those fires were traveling across to parts of Nevada. Poor air quality can cause symptoms like coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and eye irritation for some people.