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December 18, 2014

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Firefighters expect to contain Mount Charleston blaze today

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Jackie Valley

A helicopter carrying a bucket of water approaches the 20-acre fire in the Mount Charleston area on Friday.

Updated Sunday, July 4, 2010 | 2:29 a.m.

Mount Charleston Fire

A man who declined to be identified waits out an evacuation for a fire on Mount Charleston Thursday, July 1, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Trees on Fire at Mount Charleston

A wildfire on a Mount Charleston hillside that came within 100 feet of structures was 90 percent contained Saturday evening, the Bureau of Land Management said.

A voluntary evacuation for residents of the Mount Charleston area was lifted late Friday afternoon and all roads were reopened after firefighters gained control of a blaze that charred 20 acres. The BLM estimated Saturday the fire would be fully contained by this evening.

An illegal campfire was blamed for the wildfire in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, which forced evacuations and road closures Thursday morning and much of Friday.

About 130 firefighters were working Saturday to suppress the blaze, removing nearby vegetation and putting hoses around the fire's perimeter, BLM spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon said. No homes have been damaged and no injuries have occurred.

The Cathedral Fire was reported at 11:01 a.m. Thursday in Kyle Canyon and Metro closed both highways leading to the Mount Charleston area. State Road 156 was reopened Thursday night.

All trailheads and campgrounds at Mount Charleston have reopened except for the following: the Cathedral Rock picnic area and trailhead, Trail Canyon trailhead, Old Ski Tow trailhead, Mary Jane Falls trailhead, Echo trailhead and all parking lots and facilities located in an around the Cathedral Fire area. These trailheads and campgrounds will remain closed until further notice.

Cannon said the Foxtail day use area is open on a first-come, first-serve basis an alternate location for those who planned to picnic at Cathedral Rock. Kyle and Fletcher View campgrounds are also available until full.

A hotline was set up Saturday morning for those with questions about trail access. The number is 702-515-5418.

Two helicopters on Friday retrieved water from a tank and several ponds farther down the hillside, then returned to dump the water on the wildfire.

Earlier in the day, a heavy air tanker dropped a retardant — a mixture of water, fertilizer and dye — to slow the spread of the fire.

Cannon said the weather hasn't made battling the blaze any easier. Winds gusted to 30 mph at times and low humidity prompted a red flag warning, issued when conditions are favorable for fires.

"More than the heat, wind is the issue in this area — and the terrain," Cannon said.

The Clark County Department of Air Quality and Environmental Management on Thursday issued an air pollution alert as a result of the fire.

Last year, 166 wildfires burned 429 acres in Southern Nevada, Cannon said.

Resources being used Saturday include one helicopters, four hand crews and six engines. Firefighters are from Nevada, California, Arizona and Utah. Resources and staff from U.S. Forest Service, Nevada Division of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management, Clark County, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas are assigned to the fire.

Authorities are asking citizens to use the wildfire as an example of what can happen with just one spark — and employ caution when handling so-called "safe and sane" fireworks this Fourth of July weekend.

"This type of tragedy can happen in an urban neighborhood just as easily," Metro Police spokesman Bill Cassell said.

A community meeting began at 6 p.m. Friday for residents in the Mount Charleston area at Bilbray Elementary School. Representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, Nevada Division of Forestry, Clark County and Metro provided information about the fire. The meeting also was planned to give information about access to the area, but Metro opened all roads two hours before the meeting began.

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