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December 1, 2015

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Four-foot debris flow forces firefighters to pull back in Kyle Canyon


Leila Navidi

Storm clouds hang over the Spring Mountains on Friday, July 12, 2013 making it hard to distinguish smoke from the Mount Charleston Fire from clouds.

Updated Friday, July 12, 2013 | 3:23 p.m.

Mount Charleston Wildfire - July 12

Storm clouds hang over Las Vegas on Friday, July 12, 2013. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning that includes Southern Nevada and is in effect until 11 p.m. Launch slideshow »

Firefighters Head Out To Fight Fire

Firefighter Felix Poncho, based in Grants, N.M., uses binoculars to watch lightning strikes at Centennial High School before leaving to fight the Mount Charleston wildfire Thursday, July 11, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Mount Charleston Wildfire Tour

Smoke from the Carpenter 1 wildfire is shown from Kyle Canyon Road on the way up to Mount Charleston Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Thursday’s rain helped fire crews beat back the wildfire burning a swath across Mount Charleston. Friday’s rain, however, was a different story.

Early Friday afternoon, debris flows that reached as much as 4-feet high were reported heading toward State Route 157, or Kyle Canyon Road, according to Todd Lericos, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas.

The debris flows, which have since receded, caused firefighters to pull back from the area, according to Lericos. Rich Harvey, incident commander over the firefighters on Mount Charleston, tweeted this afternoon, "Fire crews have NOT evacuated from the #carpenter1fire due to heavy rains, they have just moved to higher ground on the fire."

Earlier Friday, weather service radar indicated showers and thunderstorms were “firing off” in the higher altitudes of Mount Charleston with moderate to locally heavy rain in and just south of Kyle Canyon.

Lericos, speaking shortly after 1 p.m., said rain had lightened in the area but a flash flood warning had been extended until 6:15 p.m. for the Spring Mountains.

According to the Great Basin Fire Incident Management Team, which is directing firefighting efforts on Mount Charleston, fire crews were to spend Friday patrolling and working to strengthen containment lines around the fire perimeter. Crews also were to be mopping up hot fire edges.

Crews in Kyle Canyon were working to construct a fireline eastward from Rainbow subdivision to an uncontrolled fire edge in the northeast section of the fire.

Fire managers said the fire was continuing to slowly back down toward Kyle Canyon Road. They said falling trees, ash pits and rolling debris were major concerns for firefighters in the area.

“There are burned tress laying across the road. Phone service is out in Kyle Canyon. So, a lot needs to be dealt with to make it safe,” Jon Kohn, a spokesman for the Great Basin Incident Management Team, said at a briefing Friday morning.

The fire, which had been burning virtually uncontrolled since it started July 1, is now 43 percent contained, officials said late Thursday.

“When you think of fire, it’s not all raging flame fronts. There’s a huge amount of work to do after the flames disappear. We don’t call the fire contained because it doesn’t have a lot of open flame. We call it contained because it doesn’t have the potential left to grow,” Kohn said.

Heavy rain fell in the western section of the fire Thursday near the Spring Mountains, while other fire areas reported light rain, according to the National Weather Service.

“Weather helped tremendously yesterday,” Kohn said.

Despite the progress, evacuation orders remained in place for Kyle Canyon, Lee Canyon and Trout Canyon.

The nightly community meeting to update affected residents will be at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Nye County Board of Commissioners Chambers, 2100 E. Walt Williams Drive, in Pahrump.

Friday morning, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., toured the fire area. U.S Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., was expected to tour the wildfire area Friday afternoon.

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