Highway Reopened While Crews Fight Wildfire Near Las Vegas

By: Ken Ritter AP
By: Ken Ritter AP

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Firefighters quelled flames and a state highway
reopened Wednesday, but officials worried that gusty winds blowing
through dry brush would rekindle hot spots from a wildfire in a
mountain pass southwest of Las Vegas.

"There's no active flame at all, but they're really concerned because there's a red flag warning for high winds this afternoon," Federal Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon said
after authorities declared the wildfire on Mount Potosi under control and about 30 percent contained.

The fire, which authorities called "human-caused," was discovered about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Mountain Springs area off State Highway 160, the main route between Las Vegas and Nye County's largest town, Pahrump.

The highway was reopened shortly after noon, Clark County fire spokesman Scott Allison said.

Allison declined to specify how investigators believe someone started the fire, or whether it was accidental or intentional.

"Everything is so dry up here, it only takes a spark," Allison said of the rugged area of pinon juniper, scrub brush and grasses.

About 100 firefighters worked to douse flames that spread to about 100 acres of irregular burn area, Cannon said. She noted the same area burned during a wildfire in 2006.

The nearest homes were beyond a ridge about 1½ miles to the southwest of the fire, officials said, and were not threatened. No injuries were reported.

Firefighters were aided by a break in a heat wave that sent daytime temperatures over 100 degrees in Las Vegas for three days, and a shift in winds that gusted to more than 40 mph but blew part of the fire back into an area of that it already burned. Other parts of the fire burned out when they reached naked rock.

Temperatures were expected to reach the mid-80s in Las Vegas on
Wednesday, with gusty winds continuing, forecasters said.

Allison said firefighters from Clark County, the Nevada state Division of Forestry, the BLM and U.S. Forest Service fought the fire.

"This is the first big one of the season," Allison said. "It won't be the last, that's for sure."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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