Carpenter 1 Crews Rely on Weather Reports

LAS VEGAS -- The Carpenter 1 Fire is fueled by erratic winds and firefighters can be in big danger near the fire line.

Thursday it was too dangerous for fire crews to be on the ground because of the possibility of storms and lightning.

Winds brought in from thunderstorms even miles away can push smoke and flames all over the place, which firefighters said can be one of the most dangerous situations.

Their safety depends not just on their own judgment, but the decisions of skilled scientists back at base camp.

For Carpenter 1 firefighter Bradley Davis, thunderstorms mean one thing: winds.

"That's when it gets really extreme," Davis said. "When the winds start picking up."

He said erratic winds can cause even the most experience firefighter to be concerned.

"Once the winds come, that's when we're worried about houses and stuff jumping," Davis said.

There's no way to control what can happen when storms roll in.

Last week, the fire only grew in size after lightning struck near Trout Canyon near Pahrump, lighting a tree on fire and spreading the flames.

Much of Davis' safety is determined by meteorologist Jason Clapp and fire behavior analyst Nick Yturri.

"We're out here for one reason: to protect our firefighters," Clapp said.

They work as a team, side by side, using special computer software to calculate data such as wind speed, relative humidity and storm possibility to keep firefighters out of harms way.

"Attention all branches, divisions, please standby for a weather update," Clapp said into a radio.

On Thursday, the two were especially concerned.

"Winds will be an issue for any thunderstorm," Clapp said.

Added Yturri, 'That gets very difficult for our firefighters and in an area like this, with continuous fuel beds, there's very thick vegetation, it's just not a very safe place to put our firefighters."

Even in bad weather, firefighters said they are prepared for what comes their way.

"It can get dangerous at times, but that's what we're trained for," Davis said.

Davis said the winds and storms won't stop firefighters from protecting the homes and land.

Fire crews are gearing up to continue fighting the fire into the weekend, when more rain and dangerous fire conditions are expected.


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