Evacuees find information, shelter at nearby schools

As more than 500 residents of Mount Charleston evacuated their homes while a blaze crept into the canyon, two American Red Cross shelters on either side of the Spring Mountains provide food, water and information.

“We’re like a reception center,” said Vicki Kallman, the shelter coordinator at James Bilbray Elementary School. “We give meals and information.”

The shelter, set up for residents of Kyle and Lee canyons, has had only 11 people stop in to sleep or use their facilities long term, but they have seen a steady flow of people looking for information, food, water or other aid, Kallman said.

“I was evacuated yesterday afternoon when gents from Metro came by with guns and badges and said you have to get out of Dodge,” said Doug Martz, a retiree with an online business.

One woman sought medication.

Another was escorted to her house by Las Vegas police to get her airline tickets and bags after the Red Cross made some phone calls. She was at work when they evacuation happened and wasn’t able to retrieve her belongings.

Martz has lived in the Echo View subdivision since 2000 and has been through several evacuations for fires and avalanches.

He is not letting the fire stress him out as he bides his time at the shelter. Martz spent his day swapping stories with other displaced residents.

“What else are you going to do,” Martz said. “Go get drunk or something?”

Aaron Gach, an a assistant host at Hilltop Campground and a part-time locksmith, has been living on the mountain in his recreational vehicle since mid-May.

“The Red Cross has made it clear that regardless of the situation, we’ll be all right,” Gach added. “They said they would take care of every and any, as long as needed.”

About 20 people stopped in looking for information at the Pahrump shelter at Hafen Elementary School, but no one stayed, said Marie Pate, Red Cross Pahrump shelter coordinator.

Because of the fluid situation, it’s unclear how long the shelters will remain open. But the Red Cross has vowed to stay until the last person who needs help is helped.

“We’re not gong anywhere,” Red Cross spokesman Lloyd Ziel said. “We’re here for the duration.”

Friday afternoon, the shelter sent a mobile feeding van up and down U.S. Highway 95 to provide food and water to people awaiting updates.

The Red Cross had to scramble to assemble a response team because many volunteers were out of town for the Fourth of July weekend.

“Right now we’re trying to find people,” Kallman said. “Right now, we’re stretched thin. Having this holiday weekend has been a challenge to staff people.”

The Red Cross has been delivering water to first responders at the Trout Canyon turnoff on State Road 160, assisting with cooling stations, sending volunteers into Arizona to help with their wildfires, and setting up the shelters in Pahrump and Las Vegas.

The communities near Mount Charleston and Trout Canyon also rallied together to donate water, paper towels, banana bread and other items that could help with the relief effort.

“I’ve responded to a lot of house fires with the Red Cross. I’ve never seen people go out of their way to help people like this,” said Scott Hollingsworth, a Red Cross volunteer.

Contact Rochel Leah Goldblatt at rgoldblatt@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381.