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Southern Nevada firefighters assisting in battle against Caldor Fire

Southern Nevada firefighters dispatched to assist the battle against the Caldor Fire in the Lake Tahoe area are mostly providing support to their Northern Nevada colleagues on the front lines of the devastating woodland blaze.

Clark County Fire Battalion Chief Kenny Holding said a team of 24 Las Vegas Valley firefighters arrived in the Tahoe area Tuesday morning. They are assisting the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District by responding to traditional fire and public safety calls from community residents who have not evacuated.

Holding described in a phone interview an ominous view from the fire station where he and his Clark County co-workers are deployed along the southeastern edge of Lake Tahoe.

“We are getting rained on with ash throughout the day,” Holding said. “Dark skies. Visibility gets extremely difficult depending on the weather. They are dealing with a lot right now.”

Holding said the Tahoe Douglas district “has crews working multiple days in a row” trying to hold off racing flames and rising smoke. Firefighters reported progress Wednesday in their work to save communities in the path of the fire, with expected stiff winds never materializing in the California-Nevada alpine region, The Associated Press reported.

“One guy who just came off a 14-day deployment — he came back to the station after working several days in a row so they can have a little bit of a break, get their lives back in order, reset again, so they can go back and engage in the wildfire,” Holding said.

The Southern Nevada crew consists of firefighters and equipment from Pahrump, North Las Vegas and Las Vegas. They, like remaining residents, are prepared to evacuate if necessary.

“I’d say about half of the fire district we are servicing was already evacuated prior to our arrival,” Holding said. “There are still a lot of residents that remained … the fire is just south of us and could be threatening the homes around here within the next 24 hours.

“So we are on high alert right now,” he said. “We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.”

Attempts to stop the Caldor Fire are unfolding as another team of Southern Nevada firefighters and civilians, known as the Nevada Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue team, has journeyed to Louisiana to aid victims of Hurricane Ida. The team, which made it to Louisiana on Tuesday night, was headed Wednesday to the small community of Grand Isle, which news reports indicate was devastated by the hurricane.

“They are going into an area that does not have communications yet,” Clark County Fire Chief John Steinbeck said. “I don’t believe they have arrived in that location as of yet, but it is possible.”

Steinbeck said the team is prepared to rescue people, search for victims and provide whatever other aid is necessary for the residents of Grand Isle.

“It is exhausting and rewarding,” Steinbeck said. “It can be very difficult conditions.”

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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