Updated at: 07/13/2013 7:35 PM
By MARTIN GRIFFITH
Some residents will be allowed to return to their mountain homes near Las Vegas on Sunday, 10 days after they were forced to flee because of a wildfire that has grown to 44 square miles.
About 30 residents of Trout and Lovell canyons got the good news Saturday, while some 350 residents of Lee and Kyle canyons were awaiting word on when they can go home, officials said.
Smoke from the fire had been visible from downtown Las Vegas.
Fire information officer Larry Helmerick said rain and cloud cover allowed firefighters to reach 60 percent containment of the Carpenter 1 Fire on Mount Charleston, 25 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
"The fire danger has diminished quite a bit, but we’re not ready to say they can all go back home yet," he told The Associated Press. "Hopefully, the containment numbers will go up, and we can refine it when the others can go back."
Clark County spokesman Erik Pappa said officials empathize with residents who have been out of their homes since July 4, but they want to ensure their safety.
"Many of them have been staying with friends and family and at local motels. They’ve been anxious to go home."
The fire, sparked by lightning on July 1, had sent a thick blanket of smoke over Las Vegas.
One fire support staff member was hurt Tuesday, the same day flames swept through a remote 40-acre ranch resort, claiming a lodge, a cabin and two sheds.
But Friday’s rain and cloud cover allowed some 1,300 firefighters to go on the offensive, and bolster lines around the blaze, Helmerick said.
"There’s very little smoke on the hill and it’s sure different than a few days ago," he said Saturday.
Costs to battle the blaze have reached $13.1 million.
In northern Nevada, officials on Saturday reported 91 percent containment of the sprawling Bison Fire in the Pine Nut Mountains near Gardnerville and Carson City.
The blaze, sparked by lightning July 4, covered roughly 43 square miles of rugged terrain and has cost $7.1 million to fight.
Three firefighters were injured and one old mining structure burned.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)