Storms increase chances for fire on Mt. Charleston


The first place in the day that usually sees monsoon rain is Mount Charleston. Often along with the rain, comes lightning which has already started two small fires in the last few days.

It’s tinder dry in Kyle Canyon and everyone is on high alert.

“I didn’t really expect to have a house to come back to,” said Dennis Lovell, lives in the Rainbow Subdivision.

He stuck it out as long as he could as he watched the Carpenter 1 fire engulf the hillsides surrounding his home five years ago.

“It came from here, all the way over to that ridge, and when I left, it was over on that mountain right behind us,” he said.

The massive blaze charred roughly 28,000 acres of Mount Charleston wilderness and came dangerously close to some of the homes.

You can still see how close the fire got to the Rainbow Subdivision. There are blackened trees and the scorching of trunks on pine trees, still partially alive. It got so close, it came within just feet of some of the homes. Next time a fire breaks out, these neighborhoods may not be so lucky.

With a surge in monsoon moisture in the region, there has also been a surge in manpower. A 14-member Helitack crew from Idaho flew in Sunday from a fire in Utah.

“So far this morning, we did one recon around the Charleston mountain area, and then we’re here, waiting for the lightning to roll through,” said Jim Pierson, Helitack squad leader.

They can look for fires from above, dump water on small fires or fly firefighters right to the flames to try keep any small blaze from growing out of control.

They’ll be here until the storm chances decrease.

Engineer Tolo Martinez is based in Kyle Canyon.

“Anytime there’s monsoonal moisture coming in, comes lightning,” he said.

His crew is off to a busy start returning from fires on the other side of the mountain. He’s part of a small army of firefighters ready to fight the conditions to try to keep any new blazes in check.

True to form, most of what’s been seen on this side of the mountain has been thunder and lightning,     but when the rain comes, that’s another threat.

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