Resignation of longtime forestry official surprises colleagues

Notes as smoke from the Carpenter 1 Fire clears:

NDF RESIGNATION: Longtime forestry official Mark Blankensop, who had been working the Carpenter 1 Fire, tendered his resignation late last week to the surprise of a number of his colleagues.

Blankensop was the Southern Regional Forester for the Nevada Division of Forestry, which is experiencing potential changes to its multifaceted role in Kyle Canyon. He had 38 years of forestry experience with state and federal agencies.

The resignation shocked a number of firefighters who have known and worked closely with Blankensop.

A vocal supporter of the role of NDF Station 1 in Kyle Canyon, Blankensop was highly regarded by many residents of the mountain. For many years, Station 1 has fought more than wildland fire. It’s also fought fires at residences and commercial businesses, and its paramedics have responded to everything from auto accidents to high-mountain rescue calls.

SUCH A DEAL: With Carpenter 1 then at 70 percent containment, Sunday’s final community meeting was more lighthearted than previous gatherings. And that was a good thing given the rising frustration levels of locals displaced from their homes for nearly two weeks.

Incident Commander Rich Harvey noted that the hot spots near the Kyle residences were gradually cooling, but were being monitored from near back porches to up in the “goat rocks” of the nearby high country.

“Up in the goat rocks, you’re starting to see areas where the heat’s all moved out, but there’s still some there,” Harvey said, adding jokingly: “I’m not going to go into any great detail on it, but if you feel you’d like to own one of those spots, come in, check in with your Nomex and your boots, we’ll give you about an 80-pound pack and have at (it).”

The commander was just kidding, people. Please. Don’t. Call.

SANITATION SHOUT-OUT: It’s funny what you take for granted.

It’s funny, that is, until the water no longer pours from the faucet and the toilet fails to flush.

Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager helped coordinate emergency water and sanitation services for the approximately 25 residents of Trout Canyon left without the basics because of the fire.

Like most other officials, Brager lauded the multiagency effort.

“We know that it’s been challenging,” she said Sunday. “We know it’s been frustrating. The emotions run high, but, boy, we have been in great hands.”

Volunteers with the American Red Cross helped provide residents with drinking water. Clark County Public Works employees assisted with water for showers, and the Water Pros company also pitched in.

Perhaps the biggest relief effort came from Joe’s Sanitation, which donated portable toilets for residential use. Brager was generous in her praise.

It isn’t often an elected official gives a shout-out to the Porta-Potty guys.

“It’s looking good,” Brager said of the overall effort, which includes seeking funding to improve the community’s spring-fed water source. “It’s livable. It will be a little bit like camping, with the outdoor showers and the Porta-Potties.”

Trout Canyon residents no doubt were breathing a sigh of relief.

HAPPY TRAILS: Trails at Red Rock Conservation Area were officially reopened with the exception of the remote acreage damaged by the fire.

At Mount Charleston, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor Bill Dunkelberger said Sunday that trails near the burned areas will remain temporarily closed.

“We don’t want people hiking all over the place in case we have an event,” he said.

He reminded those present that only approximately 10 percent of the forest area of 316,000 acres burned, leaving a lot left to enjoy.

“That’s a good thing,” Dunkelberger said. “It could have been a lot worse.”

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.