LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A wildfire rapidly expanded near Mount Charleston. As of Monday morning the wildfire, which was fueled by strong winds Sunday, has scorched thousands of acres and left a smoky haze over the Las Vegas valley.
State Route 157 reopened to traffic for residents only Monday morning. However, State Route 156 and Deer Creek Highway remain closed.
According to officials, the Mahogany Fire is “exhibiting extreme fire behavior,” and on Sunday night, they couldn’t use aircraft to fight the fire due to high winds. At 7:15 p.m on Sunday, the fire was estimated at 5000 acres with 0% contained and was moving east.
Fire officials were able to get a look at the fire from the air on Monday when conditions improved.
Due to more accurate mapping, the size of the fire is now estimated at 3,040 acres as of reports at 2:45 p.m on Monday. The U.S Forest Service reposts several large air tankers and helicopters provided aerial support. There is currently no containment on the fire.
Firefighters are hopeful that cooler temperatures — in the high 60s — and less wind Monday will help fight the fire.
Officials say the original call of a brush fire came out at approximately 2:41 p.m. At that point, it was estimated at 10 acres.
Wind gusts were peaking around 60 miles per hour in the area on Sunday. According to the National Weather Service in Las Vegas, the fire is continuing to rapidly spread due to increasing downslope winds.
SLIDESHOW: Viewer photos of Mahogany Fire
8 News Now spoke to a fire prevention officer with the U.S. Forest Service who said the Mahogany Fire is primarily wind-driven, especially with the red flag conditions. He described the situation as explosive, and it is also affecting how fire crews are responding.
“The rate of spread grows quite a bit,” said Ray Johnson — fire prevention officer. “We are getting gusts up to 50 miles an hour, so the fire could potentially move 50 miles an hour, which is very unsafe for our firefighters. So, we’re taking a lot of precautions right now about how close we’re getting.”
Mount Charleston Fire & Rescue, Clark County Fire Department, U.S. Forest Service and Las Vegas Fire & Rescue are all on the scene.
NV Energy has turned off power to the area at the request of the fire department for the safety of firefighters and those who live in the area.
Officials with the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest have set up a website with up-to-date info on the Mahogany Fire.
8 News Now also spoke to one man who was visiting Mount Charleston. He was only about 200 feet away from the Mahogany Fire and even suffered from smoke inhalation.
He described what he saw, first-hand.
“I actually panicked and said to myself, ‘I don’t want to die like this. I don’t want to burn up,’” said James Walker. “It was intense. It was huge. Within 10 minutes, it was a gigantic fire.”
The Spring Mountain Youth Camp was evacuated as a precaution. Voluntary evacuations are underway in Lee Canyon. Officials say all people have somewhere to go.
The American Red Cross set up an evacuation shelter at James H. Bilbray Elementary School for residents of Mount Charleston without power but announced its closure Monday afternoon after no residents requested assistance.
There is also a second fire on the other side of the mountain, near Pahrump, which was caused by lightning.
In July 2013, the Carpenter 1 fire burned 28,000 acres and took more than a month contain.
There are currently no injuries reported.
This is a developing story.