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Mount Charleston residents prepare for potential power outage

Mount Charleston residents prepare for a possible power outage
Posted at 10:52 PM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 02:35:46-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — If he has to, Mount Charleston resident Don Hamm is prepared to go without power.

"I have a generator and enough propane to run the generator for about four days," he said Wednesday of the potential power outages, tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m. on Thursday.

"[NV Energy] held a bunch of meetings, public meetings," he said. "They explained what would happen."

Hamm also understands the reason for the outages -- to prevent wildfires.

Scott Kaufmann is the director of grid operations and reliability for NV Energy in Southern Nevada. He said when conditions are dry and the wind is strong, the risk of wildfires is high.

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"When that contact happens, whether it's a tree limb coming into the line, whether it's a conductor hitting some really dry brushes or shrubs down on the ground, if those lines are energized, it's likely, it's possible that a fire would start," said Kaufmann.

Kaufmann said cutting the power while winds are high essentially cuts the risk of a wildfire sparking. Power outages are just one part of an overall natural disaster protection plan developed in 2020. To initiate an outage, the company first assesses risk and consequence.

"What we've seen from some of these fire behavior models is that even within 20 minutes, the fire could potentially grow to a point where fire crews would not be able to respond and put it out immediately," said Kaufmann.

Kaufmann said the risk of wildfires in Southern Nevada is increasing, with the Mahogany Fire just last year. And in 2013, the historic Carpenter 1 fire, which raged for more than a month and burned about 28,000 acres. Hamm said he remembers that fire well.

Western Wildfires
The Carpenter 1 fire glows on Mt. Charleston above Las Vegas, Wednesday, July 10, 2013. The fire began on July 1, 2013, and was fully contained on August 18, 2013. It consumed nearly 28,000 acres and caused parts of Nevada State Route 156 and 157 to close. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

"We saw the fire come over the ridge and go down the ridge. We left. It was pretty scary. Metro was up here and they strongly suggested everybody leave," Hamm said.

NV Energy said they understand power outages are inconvenient but they do try to mitigate that inconvenience. If NV Energy does cut power on Thursday, the company will host a Customer Resource Center at 2755 Kyle Canyon Road for residents to charge devices, connect to WiFi and get snacks and ice.