The single greatest accomplishment of all the firefighters, emergency responders and volunteers who battled this month’s Carpenter 1 Fire and helped displaced Mount Charleston residents? One of the worst natural disasters in Clark County history could have been much, much worse.
No one died. A few structures burned and infrastructure was damaged, but no homes or businesses were lost. The lightning-caused wildfire chased residents from Trout, Lovell, Kyle and Lee canyons, caked The Resort on Mount Charleston in smoke and soot, filled the Las Vegas Valley sky with clouds of ash and scarred some 28,000 acres of the beautiful Spring Mountains. But when compared with the Arizona fire that killed 19 firefighters and the Colorado and California infernos that have leveled entire neighborhoods, Southern Nevada’s blaze was downright merciful.
Of course, the fact that fire crews are off battling blazes elsewhere and Mount Charleston residents have returned home is directly attributable to the caliber of coordination and dedication displayed by many people from many agencies. The exhausting work of firefighters and their leaders ensured the thousands of valley residents who love Mount Charleston still have something to escape to. Las Vegas police manned checkpoints and helped mountain residents retrieve cherished belongings when it appeared the fire might wipe them out. And scores of volunteers helped keep workers and residents rested and fed.
The response to the Carpenter 1 Fire was proof that a city often accused of lacking heart has plenty of it to spare.
“The outpouring of the locals has been incredible. Right now, we have full-time people just fielding the offers of good will,” Southern Nevada Red Cross spokesman Lloyd Ziel said this week. Rich Harvey, the fire’s incident commander, had to urge locals to stop bringing water, Gatorade and food because there was too much of it on hand.
This was the fire so many on the mountain had feared for years and hoped they’d never see. But local, state and regional officials were up to the task. To those who fought the flames, protected life and property and gave relief to those in need, it cannot be said enough: Thank you.