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Wildfire Burns 20 Acres on Mt. Charleston | News

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Wildfire Burns 20 Acres on Mt. Charleston

MOUNT CHARLESTON, Nev. -- The wildfire on Mt. Charleston has blackened more than 20 acres since it was sparked by an illegal campfire Thursday.

All roads to the area have been opened to the mountain and a voluntary evacuation order has been lifted. Two hundred firefighters to battled the blaze.

There will be a community meeting for Mt. Charleston residents tonight at 6 p.m. at Bilbray Elementary School.

The fire, which burned in the Rainbow Canyon area caused a massive evacuation on the mountain Thursday. Winds and rough terrain were giving firefighters a tough time.

Police and fire officials evacuated all four subdivision communities: Echo, Cathedral, Rainbow and Old Town. The Mt. Charleston Hotel as well as the lodge were also evacuated.

SLIDESHOW: Two Fires Burn in Southern Nevada

Several police and fire officials were called in from the Las Vegas valley to assist in evacuating the Mt. Charleston Lodge and the Rainbow Canyon area Thursday and the evacuees were sent to Bilbray and Scherkenbach Elementary schools in northwest Las Vegas.

The Girl Scout camp near Mt. Charleston was also evacuated. The girls from Camp Foxtail were reunited with their families. Representatives with the camp say all camping sessions scheduled through Saturday have been suspended.

The U.S. Forest Service has evacuated all trailheads in Upper Kyle Canyon and Cathedral Rock as well as the Cathedral Rock Picnic Area.

The fire started just after 12 p.m. The BLM says the fire was human caused.

Mountain residents watched as the fire spread. "First, it was a little poof," said eyewitness Ronald Anderson. "Then, it got bigger. It's like wow. It just went explosive." From the Mount Charleston Lodge, Anderson watched in disbelief as the blaze grew in just seconds. "It got worse, and it got worse, and I'm looking around. I'm going, ‘Okay, there are no sirens, no police.'"

Minutes later, firefighters and officers raced to the rescue. Officials developed a strategy to get an upper hand on the fast-moving fire. Fire crews fought back with key tactics. "(We had) single-engine air tankers dropping retardant on the fire as well as firefighters on the ground cutting line around the fire to starve it of its own energy," said Kirsten Cannon of the Bureau of Land Management.

As the flames devoured dry, steep land, four communities on Mount Charleston were evacuated. Residents watched and worried. "I am concerned about my animals that have been in the house all day. That's my biggest concern," one resident said.

Tourists hoping for a quiet and peaceful stay in a rustic community on the mountain didn't get it. "Our trip went really smoothly, really great up until now," said Brittany Beckner, who is visiting from New Mexico. "So, I guess that's just how it goes."

Dry and dangerous conditions fueled the flames. "One small spark in this area can set off a tremendous wildfire," said Metro Police Officer Bill Cassell. Officials say it could be a campfire, cigarette or fireworks that caused this fire.

The BLM says the part of the fire that is contained is near homes and the Mount Charleston Lodge. The Cathedral Fire is creeping up the hill, but it's away from populated areas.

8 News NOW is covering this breaking news story and will be adding more information as it becomes available.


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