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Las Vegas: Wildfire abates as rains fall and skies begin to clear

July 12, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • The Carpenter 1 fire in the mountains west of Las Vegas is now 43% contained, officials said.
The Carpenter 1 fire in the mountains west of Las Vegas is now 43% contained,… (U.S. Forest Service )

Rains late Thursday provided some relief to firefighters battling the wildfire that has raged about 30 miles from Las Vegas, bringing the blaze to 43% containment and promising clearer skies and better air for weekend visitors.

“We see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Larry Helmerick, a fire information officer. “It’s not a freight train coming at us.”

Smoke from the fire had fouled the air in and around Las Vegas and the Strip, prompting an air quality advisory that had once reached the unhealthful stage.

Air quality improved, however, and is now predicted to be moderate until at least Monday, according to the forecast from Clark County Department of Air Quality.

Mostly sunny skies, with temperatures in the low 100s, are predicted for the weekend, according to Weather.com.

On Thursday, the Carpenter 1 wildfire in the Spring Mountains northwest of Las Vegas was only 15% contained. But about a half an inch of rain fell over the mountains, putting out some of the flames that have been devouring stands of juniper and pinion trees since July 1.

“A blessing from above is what I call it,” Helmerick said.

Increased humidity -- 48% Friday morning -- is also helping firefighters’ efforts. Humidity levels had hovered in single digits earlier this week.

Full containment of the blaze is still expected by July 19.

Despite the good news, officials still consider the fire's growth potential high, and the number of personnel fighting the blaze grew on Friday to 1,386, up 122. The total area burned increased only three acres overnight, to 27,971.

The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area about 30 miles northwest of the Strip remains closed, as are the hiking trails at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Red Rock’s scenic loop drive and the visitor center remain open.  

Ferraro’s, a popular Las Vegas restaurant, is collecting sealed cases of bottled water to distribute to firefighters.

The Italian eatery is also offering a “Mt. Charleston Relief” prix-fixe menu with proceeds benefiting the American Red Cross. The four-course meal, priced at $50, including tax, features an appetizer, soup or salad, an entrée and dessert. The special menu will be available daily from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. until the fire is out.

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