Ethan Miller / Getty Images
Smoke from the Carpenter 1 fire in the Spring Mountains is illuminated by the setting sun as it billows behind the Stratosphere Casino Hotel, right, on Monday in Las Vegas.
Fire crews in Nevada battled two large wildfires Tuesday, one blazing through a mountain area northwest of Las Vegas that billowed smoke that could be seen from the famous Strip, and another raging near Reno.
A force of more than 800 firefighters and other personnel were working to protect homes and a recreation area from the Carpenter 1 fire, burning on the landmark peak Mount Charleston, 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
Among those fighting the blaze are eight elite Type 1 Hotshot teams, the top wildland firefighters in the country, NBC station KNSV reported.
The Vegas-area blaze involves almost 31 square miles and has become the top priority fire in the West, U.S. Forest Service Spokesman Jay Nichols told The Associated Press.
Smoke from the fire had created a brown haze northeast of Sin City, triggering a health advisory from the Clark County Department of Air Quality that is expected to stay in effect until Sunday.
The fire was at 15 percent containment as of Tuesday evening, according to the Bureau of Land Management.
Though no injuries had been reported or structures lost, fire crews were battling to keep the fire away from three evacuated communities — Trout Canyon, Lee Canyon and Kyle Canyon — as it burned through juniper and pine forest.
Also deployed in fighting the fire were nine helicopters, 44 engines, 10 water tenders and a massive DC-10 tanker plane that can drop 11,700 gallons of fire retardant per load.
In all, 19 hotshot crews manned fire lines, with 50 firefighters added to the fire lines on Tuesday.
"We've got a fire running from 11,000 feet to about 5,000 feet," Nichols said of the fire’s elevation.
In northern Nevada, near the California border, more than 700 firefighters battled the Bison fire, which reached 40 square miles in the Pine Nut Mountains outside Carson City, Garnerville and Reno.
One firefighter suffered a knee injury while fighting that blaze, the AP reported. As of Tuesday the Bison fire was 25 percent contained, according to BLM fire reports. About 20 homes were evacuated in that fire.
The Nevada fires were just two of the 22 large wildfires burning across western states involving more than 400,000 acres.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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First published July 9 2013, 3:22 PM