(Note: The daily public fire briefing will be at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Visitor Center. The center is off Charleston Blvd. (SR 159). A Joint Information Center is in operation. All calls should be directed to 702-799-4610).
By Jackie Valley
LAS VEGAS SUN
Residents of Trout and Lovell canyons will be able to go home starting at 10 a.m. Sunday, a sign of firefighters’ confidence battling the 27,000-acre wildfire.
Madonna Lengerich, a spokeswoman for the Great Basin Fire Incident Management Team, confirmed the news that Clark County Fire Chief Fernandez Leary delivered during a public meeting the previous day in Pahrump.
It is yet to be determined when evacuated residents of Lee and Kyle canyons will be able to return home.
Fire containment was at 45 percent as of late Saturday morning.
Leary said a multi-agency team, had drafted a plan to help Trout Canyon residents with re-entry.
Periodic heavy rains Friday on the Spring Mountains forced firefighters to pull back from several areas and seek higher ground, stalling progress, said Paul Broyles, deputy incident commander. Fire containment remains at 43 percent as of Friday evening, he said.
“We just want to be conservative, so it will probably go up tomorrow,” Broyles said, referring to the containment percentage.
TODAY'S FIREFIGHTING PLANS
Construction of line on the southeast section of fire is planned for today. The area of the fire received a half to a third of an inch of rain Friday, moderating fire behavior.
Structure protection will continue in Kyle Canyon and at Harris and Prospect Ranches. Crews will construct line and cold trail along the South Loop ridge line on the north and west side of the fire. Firefighters are in the process of mopping up and rehabilitation of lines to contain any slopovers of the contained fire lines.
Weather over the fire is predicted to be hotter and drier, with possible isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon. After Friday'’s precipitation, fuel moisture around the fire area should be higher in the morning, but as temperatures rise, they will start dropping.
Creeping and smoldering fire behavior was observed Friday, along with areas showing active surface flames and single tree torching.
VEHICLE NEARLY WASHED AWAY
Much of the heavy rain fell near Harris Springs, where a division supervisor’s vehicle almost got washed away, he said.
Fire crews on Friday were patrolling and strengthening containment lines around the fire perimeter, as well as mopping up hot fire edges, according to the Great Basin Fire Incident Management Team, which is directing efforts on Mount Charleston.
Firefighters have gotten the upper hand on wildfires near the Rainbow subdivision and mile marker 6 of State Route 157, where fire crossed the road Tuesday, Broyles said.
Two problem spots remain — one above the west side of Kyle Canyon and the other in the southeast portion of the fire swath, not far from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Broyles said.
The area to the north of the western Kyle Canyon is extremely steep terrain, reminiscent of Yosemite National Park, and, as a result, inaccessible to firefighters, Broyles said.
“It’s going to be a waiting game,” he said. “We’re going to have smoke in there for some time higher up — quite high up.”
Four hotshot crews will be joining firefighting efforts in the trouble spot near Red Rock, home to 18-foot pinyon-juniper trees fueling the blaze, Broyles said. In addition, a portable retardant plant set up on Kyle Canyon Road is helping firefighters more efficiently drop retardant on a fire line in that area.
“We anticipate good progress there,” he said.
NOT ALL ARE PLEASED
The largely positive news didn’t assuage all residents who attended the meeting, though.
Don Kubinski, a Trout Canyon evacuee, argued that if there’s not imminent danger anymore, residents should be allowed to return sooner than Sunday.
“There should be no delay,” he said. “It should be right now.”
Fellow Trout Canyon resident Dennis Walker, however, was more worried about the community’s water source than the projected re-entry date. The community’s water pipeline — made of shell casings coming three miles downhill from Deer Springs — sustained 18 breaks, which means no running water to flush toilets or use for cooking, he said.
Walker told incident managers the community needs a temporary pipeline installed and then eventual help from the federal government.
Leary said officials have reached out to the private property owner whose land the water line sits on, but they have not heard back yet.
Because of the broken water line, Walker said he believes the residents of Trout Canyon have suffered more than other communities in the wildfire’s path.
“We’re not a forgotten community here,” he said. “We need water.”
OVERWHELMED BY DONATIONS
At a briefing earlier Friday, Rich Harvey, the incident commander, reported that the command center established at Centennial High School had been overwhelmed with donations in the past several days.
Harvey said the operations at the school are well stocked and firefighters in the field have plenty of provisions. Instead of giving food and water, Harvey said those wanting to support firefighters and victims of the fire should consider donating money to one of two charities.
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation provides support to the families of wildland firefighters injured or killed in the line of duty.
The American Red Cross of Southern Nevada also provides assistance to families affected or displaced by fire, whether it’s a forest fire or a residential fire. Donors wishing to specifically support fire relief efforts can make their gift to the organization’s “Fire Hurts, Red Cross Helps” campaign.