LAS VEGAS - Current fire threats in southern Nevada are the worst in decades according to the U.S. Forest Service. Forest Service officials are asking people who travel to Mount Charleston to take steps to reduce the risk of forest fires.
Temperatures on the mountain are typically 15 to 20 degrees cooler than the valley, which is why so many people visit Mount Charleston this time of year.
Mount Charleston is not immune, however, to dry conditions. That means visitors to the mountain will face restrictions this summer. You can't have campfires. Fireworks are also prohibited.
Most fires in the Mount Charleston area are either caused by people or lightning. As monsoon season approaches, the likelihood of lightning strikes and the risk of fires increase.
Approximately 65 firefighters from southern California are in Nevada to help protect dry, vulnerable areas. U.S. Forest Service Chief Ron Bollier says despite the extra manpower, visitors are the first line of defense.
"We're getting increased fire behavior that we haven't seen ever, because we haven't recorded it," Bollier said. "We're in such conditions now that we're seeing extreme fire behavior as soon as you get to the incident. It's not slow moving fire. It's erratic fire spread and fire behavior due to the fuel conditions in the drought and where we've been over the last ten to fifteen years on drought."
Large wildfires are unlikely in lower elevations of Clark County and Nye County, because there are not enough trees. Higher elevations, however, are vulnerable. At least three wildfires have erupted in the past three weeks in the Mount Charleston area.
The largest is a 40-acre blaze in Lovell Canyon. Fire investigators are investigating the cause of that fire.