The Carpenter 1 fire burns in the mountains behind the Red Rock Conservation Area visitor center near Las Vegas early in the morning  Thursday. Adam Kiraly, a Menominee graduate, has been stationed at the scene of the fire with his fire crew since the blaze started from a lightning strike. <br> The 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 Thursday. Adam Kiraly, a Menominee graduate, has been stationed at the scene of the fire with his fire crew since the blaze started from a lightning strike.
The Associated Press
MENOMINEE - A former Menominee resident is in the middle of one of the biggest western wildfires of the season in Nevada. Adam Kiraly, a 2001 graduate of Menominee High School, is among 1,100 other firefighters battling the nearly 28,000-acre Carpenter 1 fire in the Spring Mountains on the south side of Mt. Charleston. Reports Sunday put the fire at 60 percent containment with early cost estimates for fighting the blaze at about $13 million.

Kiraly, the son of Gabriel and Kathleen Kiraly of Menominee, talked with the EagleHerald by phone on Friday. He's stationed at the Mountain Springs Fire Station, about 30 minutes south of Las Vegas. He's been on the scene since the blaze was sparked by a bolt of lightning.

"We've been working anywhere from 12 to 16 hours every day since the fire started the first of July," he said.

Kiraly is part of a five-man engine crew that goes wherever they're needed. Their engine carries just 750 gallons of water so they make the most of it.

"We generally will drive in about as far as we can go," he said. "Depending on where the fire is, we'll either hike in or we'll lay hose lines down to the fire. We'll start at the back of the fire and we'll work the flanks all the way around it."

Thunderstorms unfortunately have been bringing more lightning than rain. But hot, dry weather is only part of the problem facing firefighters.

"The terrain is one of the biggest features out here in the Spring Mountains. It's really steep, rugged country here," said Kiraly. "What's going on with the Carpenter 1 fire right now is that the ridges are all aligned with the southwest winds; they go right up the canyon, jumping from ridge top to ridge top. It gives me a pretty decent idea of what the Peshtigo and Chicago Fire must have been like."

Fighting fires is a dangerous business, as evidenced recently by the Yarnell Hill Fire in Prescott, Arizona. There, 19 firefighters known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots, lost their lives in the line of duty June 30.

The tragic loss has had a big impact on firefighters everywhere, including Kiraly and his team. On Friday, his group attended a meeting to get an update on the status of the current fire and talk about what happened in Arizona.

"It's just a sense of staying aware," he said. "I think so many people get a little complacent in this field at times and they forget to look up, look down, look all around, as we generally say. It always weighs in the back of your mind, every time you're out there on fires."