Mt. Charleston Could Lose Emergency Help - 8 News NOW

Mt. Charleston Could Lose Emergency Help

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MOUNT CHARLESTON, Nev. -- In rural communities, volunteer firefighters are sometimes the first -- and only – responders to a cry for help.

That's the case on Mount Charleston, a small community northwest of the Las Vegas valley that depends on volunteers.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has said he wants to cut the medical portion of the state's Forestry Division, located next door to Mount Charleston's fire station.

Only about 300 people live in the rural mountain community, but millions of visitors come each year to ski, sled and camp.

Almost two dozen fire volunteers cover shifts at the station, when possible.

"Some days, I notice there's no one," volunteer fire chief David Martin said.

Martin maintains underground tanks in Las Vegas for Terrible's by day and volunteers at night on the mountain.

He said Mount Charleston's climate poses another challenge.

"The winter time, it can be extremely cold," he said. "We get a lot of snow. Summertime, we can get some ripping fires up here in the forest.

"If Nevada Division of Forestry terminates their all-risk fire service, then we will be the only game in town. The problem with that is the majority of us work in town, so during the day there would be no coverage."

In the west Texas fire last week, dozens of people were killed including five volunteer firefighters.

"Our hearts go out to them," Martin said.

Despite the risks, Martin said he understands the difference he makes. A first responder saved his life when he was just 10 years old.

It was a family vacation on Catalina Island and 20-feet waves separated him from his parents.

"It was the generosity of a L.A. County sheriff who put me in his house, watched over me," he said.

Not everyone on the trip survived.

"The friend that I was with, his father died that night, drowned," he said.

The county manages to find money for the station's trucks and major equipment, but the fire house also has annual fundraisers for the extras they need.

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