Las Vegas Sun

April 16, 2014

Mount Charleston fires in ‘Mop-Up’ phase

Firefighters Tuesday contained one of the two blazes burning in Toiyabe National Forest and estimated they would contain the second fire Wednesday evening.

Both fires, burning on U.S. Forest Service land some 40 miles northwest of Las Vegas, are believed to have been started by hikers or campers, officials stated. An investigation is under way.

One of the blazes, dubbed "Firefall," was contained in the Echo Cliffs area on the slopes of Mount Charleston. Only four acres of brush and timber were destroyed.

"It is contained, but we're not calling it controlled," a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said late Tuesday. Ten firefighters using two fire engines were standing watch over the still-smoldering blaze Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, an additional 61 firefighters constructed one mile of fire line around a 50-acre blaze burning above Big Falls, one mile east of Charleston Park.

Helicopters were dropping water on hot spots while the fire crews fought the fire on the ground. Officials said the blaze could be completely encircled by lines by 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Firefighters said $17,825 has been spent fighting the Echo Cliffs fire and about $14,760 on the blaze at Big Falls. The total costs for extinguishing both blazes is expected to top $60,000.

The Cold Creek fire of June 24 cost $600,000 to fight and destroyed an estimated $340,000 in wildlife, timber, watershed and recreation areas.

A total of 43 men from the Nevada Division of Forestry, the San Bernardino National Forest and the Mount Charletson Volunteer Fire Department were at the scene Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier, an additional 61 firefighters were constructing an estimated two miles of fire line around the Big Falls fire.

"The fire is pretty quiet, but it has potential (to get out of control)" Martin said. "If we have a good day today, we should get quite a bit accomplished."

Martin said the scenic beauty of th fire zone complicates firefighting efforts. "We are striving . . . to have a low impact on the lands o as to protect its scenic value."

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