LAS VEGAS (AP) — Firefighters worked amid rainstorms and flash flooding Friday to contain a wildfire that has burned since July 1 in the mountains northwest of Las Vegas, while U.S. Forest Service crews began trying to restore damaged plant and animal habitat.
Officially, a quarter of an inch of rain fell on the nearly 44-square-mile area charred by flames and left prone to mudslides, said Larry Helmerick, a fire official from Golden, Colo. He was working with more than 1,300 other firefighters and support personnel on the Carpenter 1 fire.
“It was a nice rain. It wasn’t a downpour,” he said.
Still, it rained hard enough on and around Mount Charleston to create flash flooding in eastern parts of the fragile and damaged burn zone, Helmerick said. There was no immediate word of damage to roads or homes.
Firefighters worked to improve and expand fire lines already constructed around 43 percent of the fire, including near more than 400 homes, a rustic hotel and a scenic alpine lodge in the Kyle Canyon area about 25 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
They also worked to limit the spread of the fire southeast toward the scenic Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, just 17 miles west of the Strip.
Elsewhere, Forest Service workers deployed to begin installing erosion barriers, sowing seeds and planting trees to try to stabilize soil in high-risk areas. Officials said the Burned Area Emergency Response effort could continue for a year.
More than 500 residents remained evacuated from the Rainbow, Old Town and Echo hamlets in Kyle Canyon, heading into a second weekend out of their homes.
Fire officials determined the danger was still too great to let them return, Forest Service spokeswoman Suzanne Shelp said.
“I wouldn’t say (Kyle Canyon) is out of danger,” Shelp said. “There’s still fire in cliff bands. There’s still a threat.”
No new structures were lost Friday, Helmerick said, and no new injuries were reported.
One fire support staff member was hurt Tuesday, the same day flames swept through a remote 40-acre ranch resort, claiming a lodge, a cabin, two sheds and an outhouse. A nearby commercial building also burned.
Officials say the fire was sparked by lightning July 1 in the Spring Mountains National Recreation area near Trout Springs. Fire managers hope to have it contained by July 19. The cost of battling the blaze was expected to top $12 million.
In northern Nevada, mop-up and fire line rehabilitation began on the sprawling Bison Fire in the Pine Nut Mountains near Gardnerville and Carson City. Officials said the fire there was 80 percent contained.
The Bison blaze, sparked by lightning July 4, covered roughly 43 square miles of rugged terrain in Douglas and Lyon counties, and cost almost $5.7 million to fight. One old structure in the Slater Mine area burned.