While the residents of Kyle Canyon anxiously await updates on the status of the Carpenter 1 Fire, the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort has been doing more than its part to help fire crews in their efforts.
Kevin Stickelman, president and general manager of the resort, says his staff jumped into action on July 2, days before residents of Mt. Charleston were evacuated. As part of the resort’s Instant Management Strategy, Stickelman says staff began making defensible space around all the buildings and pumping additional water into the resort’s snow-making reservoir. “At that time, the fire was still to the west side of us, and the direction [it was going] was not really well-known at that point.”
On July 4, the resort welcomed hundreds of guests, but ushered everyone out around 4:30 p.m. after seeing “the huge, explosive growth of the fire,” and announced an indefinite closure to the public, about 30 minutes before the overall evacuation order was issued, Stickelman says.
The resort became an immediate resource for fire crews, who surveyed the area on July 3 to determine if they could get aircraft into the area to draw water from the reservoir. “They were flying their large Type 1 helicopters out here Thursday and Friday to suck up thousands of gallons of water,” Stickelman says. “They went through tens of thousands of gallons each day, but they began pulling from other areas that are easier to get to. Our ridge line is so high.” Stickelman says the resort has already replenished all the water that was drawn out and even added an additional 200,000 gallons in case fire crews need it.
In addition, the resort made its chair lifts available to send crews up to the ridge to look for spot fires. “Anything they need,” Stickelman says. “We gave them ice for their coolers, we kept the bathrooms open, and we’re giving them Wi-Fi access to talk to the planning section or friends or loved ones. There’s no cell phone reception up here.” And since the resort is currently closed to the public but its restaurant still has supplies, Stickelman says he’s prepared to feed crews if need be.
And if fire crews can keep the fire where it currently is—about 2 miles from the resort—Stickelman says operations at his resort should not change one bit after everything is cleaned up and supplies are restocked. “After this is all over, I’d say we could reopen in three or four days.”
“Fire is a strange animal, and all it takes is the right turn of wind or outflow from a thunderstorm and things can change,” Stickelman says. While there were originally hundreds of firefighters at his resort, now there are rotating crews of four looking for threats. Protecting his resort’s infrastructure is crucial, not just for the winter operations but remaining a resource for fire crews if it’s needed. “We provide the largest access to water in Lee Canyon.”
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