Firefighters are struggling to contain two wildfires wreaking havoc more than 450 miles apart from each other in Nevada, with 25,000 acres scorched near Las Vegas and another 25,000 acres burned near Reno.
The so-called Carpenter 1 Fire in Mount Charleston, in southern Nevada near Vegas, is responsible for the destruction of six buildings and is only 10 percent contained as of Wednesday morning, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
The Nevada wildfire has been raging since July 1 and was caused by a lightning strike. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., was briefed on the status of the fire on Saturday and told the Las Vegas Sun that the wildfire has spread since then.
"Progress made to contain the blaze on Monday was erased on Tuesday, as the fire jumped a road and spread to new forest and desert land," Reid said Wednesday. “"We thought residents would be able to return to their homes in Kyle Canyon yesterday, but unfortunately the fire has spread. I hope they’ll be able to return to their homes soon. ... The smoke can be seen from every part of the Las Vegas Valley. And I’ve heard from people in Nevada who have seen ash falling from the sky like snow."
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In Douglas County near Reno, the Bison Fire is 40 percent contained as of Wednesday morning and spurred authorities to evacuate nearby Smith Valley, KRNV in Reno reported. The wildfire, which was also caused by a lightning strike on July 4, is costing $3.5 million and counting to fight.
More than 1,000 firefighters were battling the Bison Fire as of Tuesday night, and fire officials expect the wildfire to be fully contained by Monday, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
Another 1,000 firefighters are trying to control the Mount Charleston fire. More than 162,000 gallons of water was dumped on the flames Tuesday. Some 400 buildings are threatened by the wildfire, according to the Review-Journal.
“We don’t get many clouds in Southern Nevada, but the smoke cloud here is intense,” Reid told the paper. “This is really a devastating fire.”
High winds and low humidity are the main obstacles for firefighters battling the Carpenter 1 Fire, according to Fire Information Officer John Kohn.
“People are naturally afraid of smoke,” Kohn told the Review-Journal. “It’s an instinct. But we’re not losing the battle.”
While the Carpenter 1 Fire was blamed for the destruction of six buildings, no homes have been threatened by the Bison Fire. But that doesn’t mean the Reno wildfire is any less dangerous, Nevada State Forester Pete Anderson told the Gazette-Journal.
“This one is the largest single fire we can find,” he said of the Bison Fire endangering areas of Douglas County.