Bureau of Land Management spokesman Mark Struble said the fire around Rawe Peak, near the ghost town of Como, was 40 percent contained Friday morning.
No homes were threatened, and no injuries were reported.
About 250 firefighters were challenged by steep, rugged terrain as the fire was being fueled by a heavy growth of sagebrush, and pinion and juniper trees, Struble said.
The fire apparently was touched off by a piece of heavy equipment that knocked over a power pole on Thursday about 17 miles east of Carson City, Struble said.
"The BLM just encourages anyone using heavy equipment to be extremely careful," he said Friday. "There's still a lot of vegetation left over from past years that hasn't burned. On a day like yesterday when there were high winds, one spark — there's no way you're going to stop it."
Wildfires, development and industry have steadily cut into the habitat of sage grouse, a bird about the size of a chicken that is found on sagebrush plains and high desert from Colorado to California and north into southern Canada.
The federal government is under a judge's order to reconsider an earlier decision against listing the sage grouse as endangered.
"In any sagebrush fire in Nevada you can bet it'll impact the sage grouse. That's a resource concern of ours," Struble said. "There are are a number of challenges from keeping the bird listed as threatened or endangered."
The fire was expected to be fully contained by Saturday evening.