Habitat rehab begins in Vegas-area wildfire area

KEN RITTER
Associated Press
The Carpenter 1 fire burns in the mountains behind the Red Rock Conservation Area visitor center near Las Vegas early in the morning of Thursday, July 11, 2013. The fire has forced the closure of the Red Rock National Conservation Area Scenic Loop. Firefighters in the mountains near Las Vegas hoped Thursday that predicted rain showers and cooler temperatures would help them corral the massive wildfire that for 10 days charred almost 44 square miles and was still just 15 percent contained. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Firefighters working in rainstorms to contain a massive wildfire in the mountains northwest of Las Vegas are being joined by crews taking the first steps toward restoring damaged plant and animal habitat.

The U.S. Forest Service launched a Burned Area Emergency Response effort Friday in parts of the nearly 44 square miles charred by the Carpenter 1 fire.

Interagency fire spokesman Larry Helmerick says it rained hard enough on and around Mount Charleston to create flash flooding in eastern parts of the burn zone.

There was no immediate word of damage to roads or homes.

Firefighters earlier reported 43 percent containment of the fire, including protection of more than 400 homes, a rustic hotel and a scenic alpine lodge in Kyle Canyon.

More than 500 residents remain evacuated.