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Las Vegas: Wildfire growth slows; air quality improves

July 11, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • The growth of the Carpenter 1 fire near Las Vegas has slowed, according to officials.
The growth of the Carpenter 1 fire near Las Vegas has slowed, according to… (Jeff Scheid / Las Vegas Review…)

Air quality in the Las Vegas area, which had been adversely affected by a nearby wildfire, improved Thursday, prompting officials to downgrade an alert from unhealthful to moderate. Conditions are expected to remain that way through the weekend.

More good news for firefighters and weekend Vegas visitors: Thunderstorms predicted for Thursday could cleanse the air --but the storm also could create a new threat.

Smoke from the Carpenter 1 fire, which grew overnight to almost 28,000 acres in the Spring Mountains northwest of the city, could pose a threat largely to at-risk individuals, such as children, the elderly and those with respiratory ailments, officials said.

Southland residents planning trips to Las Vegas can check the most recent air quality forecast online.

“The particulate, or smoke, levels aren’t as high as anticipated,” said Phillip Wiker, a meteorologist with the Clark County Department of Air Quality. “The atmospheric moisture is taking a lot of the particulate matter out of the air.”

The thunderstorms expected Thursday may help the air quality, but such storms also bring the potential for lightning strikes, officials said. Lightning is blamed for starting the Carpenter 1 blaze on July 1.

The rain is expected to help the firefight. “The number of resources should start decreasing if we have a good day today,” said Suzanne Shelp of the U.S. Forest Service. The number of firefighters battling the blaze stood at 1,264 Thursday morning.

The fire's spread slowed from the previous day; 27,968 acres in the region commonly called Mt. Charleston have been scorched. Six structures have burned, but Shelp said fire lines were holding around the Rainbow subdivision, a cluster of mountainside homes about 30 miles northwest of the city.

Full containment is predicted for July 19.

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