A wildfire broke out on Mount Charleston on Thursday, scorching 13 acres of forest and prompting the evacuation of most of the residents and campers.
The fire was originally reported about 11 a.m. as a structure fire, but authorities determined that no buildings were involved in the blaze, which started in the Cathedral Rock area near the end of state Route 157.
The fire came within 1,000 feet of homes, said Kirsten Cannon of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Investigators had not determined what sparked the flames, but they probably were human-caused, Cannon said.
Firefighting crews, including more than 100 federal, state and local firefighters and an air tanker, battled heat and gusty winds to get the so-called Cathedral Fire about 25 percent contained by 9 p.m., Cannon said. Fire crews were expected to work overnight to battle the blaze.
Shortly after the fire began, about 40 Las Vegas police officers and Highway Patrol troopers went door to door in the mountain's four subdivisions telling residents about a voluntary evacuation order. Most residents left, though some stayed behind, Las Vegas police officer Bill Cassell said.
Also, a Las Vegas police search and rescue helicopter flew up the mountain to make sure all hikers had evacuated. Nearby campgrounds and picnic areas also were cleared.
On Mount Charleston, resident Jim Laurie was evacuating his family, friends and pets when reached by cellular phone.
"The winds are swirling, and it's about a mile from my house," he said. "Ironically this fire is on the anniversary of the one that was started by that plane crash."
Two years ago on June 28, some residents of the mountain community were evacuated when a Piper Cherokee plane swooped through Kyle Canyon at low altitude, clipped some power lines and crashed, killing two couples from Northern California.
The crash sparked a 12-acre blaze in the canyon that was contained on June 30, 2008.
On Thursday afternoon, mountain residents trying to return home were met by a police barricade on Route 157 near U.S. Highway 95.
Harry Windhorst, a former firefighter and a 35-year resident of Mount Charleston, said he was returning home from a golf outing in the Las Vegas Valley when he saw the smoke.
His daughter, three grandchildren and horse were at his home in Rainbow Canyon, about a mile from the fire, he said.
"Trying to get 'em all out safe, that's the biggest thing," said Windhorst, 68. "Evidently they're in no great danger now, but they're playing it safe."
Patti Bishop, a Mount Charleston resident who couldn't get home, was nervous about her husband, George, who was home packing in preparation for evacuation.
"They won't let me go help him," said Bishop, who initially heard the fire was caused by a small campfire.
"It turned out to be worse," she said. "My grandkids were coming to stay with us Wednesday. This is just devastating."
Residents along the lower portion of Route 157 were allowed back to their homes by midafternoon.
The Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada evacuated more than 40 girls and 20 staff members from Camp Foxtail in nearby Lee Canyon.
"They couldn't even see or smell smoke from the camp, but you never know which way it's going to go, so we evacuated as a precaution," said Emily Smith, development director for the Girl Scouts.
The girls, who ranged in age from 7 to 17, were taken by bus to the Girl Scouts headquarters near Freedom Park, where their parents picked them up, Smith said. The Girl Scouts also canceled a camp session scheduled for today .
Because of the smoke in the air, Clark County officials declared an air quality alert, which will remain in effect until the fire is under control.
State Route 157, known as Kyle Canyon Road, remains closed to all westbound traffic at Scottie Road, about six miles west of U.S. Highway 95. State Route 156, known as Lee Canyon Road, is open, but state Route 158, which connects state routes 157 and 156, is closed.
The Mount Charleston subdivisions of Old Town, Cathedral Rock, Echo and Rainbow remain closed.
Review-Journal reporters Mike Blasky, Lynnette Curtis, Lawrence Mower, Antonio Planas and Keith Rogers contributed to this report.