After fire, rain is biggest threat to Mt. Charleston - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

After fire, rain is biggest threat to Mt. Charleston

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Officials warn that rain could wash this ash and soil from Mt. Charleston into the Las Vegas Valley. (Les Krifaton/FOX5) Officials warn that rain could wash this ash and soil from Mt. Charleston into the Las Vegas Valley. (Les Krifaton/FOX5)
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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

On Thursday, FOX5 was given a ride into Kyle Canyon before the area, including some of its hiking trails, will open to the public 8 a.m. Friday.

A few hot spots remain smoldering, but what you may see is no cause for concern.

"A lot of people will ask, 'Why don't they put it out?' Quite frankly, it's in an area that is inaccessible, it would be very dangerous, and it's not posing a threat," said Metro officer Bill Cassell. 

The largest threat looming for homes on the mountain, and even areas of Las Vegas, will be when rain starts to fall.

Most of the 27,881 acres that were charred are characterized as "moderately burned" by the U.S. Forest Service.

It will not be able to absorb water like a healthy forest.

"As it comes down, it will come down as a concrete slurry mix," said Forest Service Hydrologist Mary Moore. 

Ash, rocks and logs anywhere from one to four inches below the surface could create massive and destructive currents with any significant rainfall. 

"It's almost like your systems are primed and ready to go, and all they're waiting for is a big event to wash the material," said Moore.

In the canyons, residents may not have enough time to react.

"The response may happen so quickly that you won't be able to even get out of the canyons. You just need to get to higher ground," Moore explained.

The Forest Service is researching contingencies to safeguard homes near runoff channels, including treatments like mulching the scorched soil.

Those away from the mountain could see debris sweep into North Las Vegas and Pahrump.

"Just because the fire is out doesn't mean the emergency is over," said Moore.

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