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Wildfire between Pahrump-Las Vegas grows

A wildfire burning on the western side of Mount Potosi had grown to at least 420 acres with 10 percent containment, the U.S. Forest Service said Saturday.

Forest Service spokeswoman Erica Hupp said fire crews are still sizing up the blaze, which is burning within the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Spring Mountain National Recreation Area, about 35 miles southwest of Las Vegas.

Resources on the scene Saturday included eight smoke jumpers, one engine, one helicopter, three air tankers and a Type III Incident Management Team, officials reported.

The wildfire was one of two reported Thursday afternoon on Mount Potosi. U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service crews responded to the fires, the first of which was reported about 5:20 p.m. near the Kimball Scout Reservation, an 1,100-acre Boy Scout camp. That fire had been extinguished by Friday morning, Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Peter Kisfalvi said.

A larger fire burning on the Pahrump side of the mountain erupted about 6:50 p.m., according to the Forest Service.

Lightning strikes in the area might have started both blazes. The National Weather Service reported thunderstorms over the Spring Mountains late Thursday afternoon and evening.

More thunderstorm activity is expected Friday and Saturday, said weather service meteorologist Clay Morgan. “It looks like we’ll have very isolated thunderstorms, with dry lightning being the primary concern.”

The forecast calls for wetter weather with a greater chance for thunderstorms on Sunday, Morgan said. That could mean more lightning, but it also could mean rain that could blunt the fire danger somewhat, he said.

The fire is about 5 miles from the Kimball Scout Reservation and appears to be burning away from the facility, according to Brian Porter, director of support services for the Boy Scouts’ Las Vegas Area Council.

Even so, the Boy Scouts on Friday canceled a three-day camp for 10- and 11-year-olds that was slated to start Sunday and bring about 150 people to Kimball.

Mike Marchese, executive director of the council, said no evacuation order was in place, but the council postponed the event “out of an abundance of caution” — and to stay out of the way of fire crews. “We don’t take any chances,” he said.

The Nevada Highway Patrol tweeted Friday morning there were no road closures on state Route 160 between Pahrump and Las Vegas because of the fire.

Forest Service spokesman Ray Johnson said smoke jumpers, who are basically fire paratroopers, had been ordered to fight the blaze early Friday.

“These guys will jump out of an airplane, land near the fire, then they can hike to it,” he said.

In 2013, the Carpenter 1 fire began July 1 and burned for several weeks. It was one of the largest fires to occur in the Spring Mountains in decades and forced the evacuation of hundreds of mountain homes while burning more than 28,000 acres of land.

The Pahrump Valley Times staff contributed to this story.

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