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Wildfire near Las Vegas still raging; one of 22 across 10 states

July 10, 2013|By Devin Kelly | This post has been updated, as indicated below.
  • Smoke from the Carpenter 1 fire in the Spring Mountains range is illuminated by the setting sun as it billows behind hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. Nearly 20,000 acres have burned since lightning sparked the blaze July 1 in Carpenter Canyon on the Pahrump, Nev., side of Mount Charleston. More than 800 firefighters are battling the wildfire.
Smoke from the Carpenter 1 fire in the Spring Mountains range is illuminated… (Ethan Miller / Getty Images )

A large wildfire burning in the mountains northwest of Las Vegas has destroyed six structures and continues to grow, officials said Wednesday.

Officials only had details about one of the buildings, a commercial structure at Prospect Springs Ranch, said fire spokeswoman Suzanne Shelp. It is not known if any homes were destroyed.

More than a thousand firefighters from multiple states were working to protect more than 400 homes, as well as lodges and cabins, in canyon communities near Mount Charleston. Two firefighters reported minor injuries while fighting the blaze.  

Local casinos were opening up to help the more than 500 people displaced from their homes. Cannery Casino Resorts in Las Vegas has offered 40 hotel rooms for up to 10 days to displaced families, officials said.  

The Carpenter 1 blaze grew nine square miles on Tuesday, reducing containment from 15% to 10% as it spread to 25,524 acres. Strong gusts, coupled with dry conditions and low humidity, have challenged efforts to control the flames.  

“A lot of it’s just the wind,” Shelp said.

The fire has sent smoke billowing over the Las Vegas Strip, creating striking images of an orange-yellow sky around a drifting black plume. White ash has fallen like snow in communities north and west of downtown, according to reports.

In remarks on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) raised alarm bells about the fires raging in his state.  

“I'll do everything that I can to ensure that every federal resource that's available will be made available to support local officials and fire crews,” Reid said.  

In the northwest part of Nevada, the Bison fire, the largest blaze ever recorded in the region, grew to more than 25,000 acres. Containment also inched up, to 40%, said fire spokeswoman Elayne Briggs.

About 20 residences in the Smith Valley area were evacuated Tuesday. Sheriff’s deputies went door to door encouraging people to leave, Briggs said. No homes or structures have been reported destroyed.

A “red flag” warning indicating critical fire conditions will be in effect through the afternoon and evening. In the higher slopes of the Pine Nut Mountains, wind speeds are expected to reach gusts of between 40 and 45 miles per hour, Briggs said.   

At least 22 large active wildfires are burning across the West and in Alaska. 

The Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona, which claimed the lives of 19 wildland firefighters late last month, was 100% contained by Wednesday night, and all evacuation orders were lifted.

In Alaska, lower temperatures and rainfall helped slow the spread of the Stuart Hill fire, which has grown to more than 82,000 acres near Fairbanks. The blaze was sparked on an Army weapons military and led to the temporary evacuations of more than 600 people earlier this week. Air tankers and about 734 firefighters are working to contain the blaze, which has already cost $6.6 million. 

In southern Colorado, crews reached 100% containment on the East Peak fire that burned 13 homes.  

[Updated, 9:52 p.m. July 10: This post has been updated with 100% containment of the Yarnell Hill fire.]

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devin.kelly@latimes.com

Twitter: @devckelly

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