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As Carpenter 1 anniversary approaches, firefighters prepare for hot, dry season ahead

It's "fire readiness" time on the mountain. Firefighters are preparing for a long, hot summer. 6/15/17 (Denise Rosch | KSNV)

July 1 marks four years since the massive Carpenter 1 fire that burned 28,000 acres up on Mount Charleston. It's an anniversary firefighters would just as soon forget.

Current conditions are just like they were then--hot and extremely dry.

Firefighters are getting ready for the long, hot season ahead.

Carl Gertz is no stranger to the hiking trails of Kyle Canyon.

"It's beautiful, remote," said Gertz.

On this trip, he's bringing along friends and family for a quick escape from the June heat. After checking the forecast, he's not optimistic.

"The weekend is going to be really hot in Vegas. We may be coming back again," said Gertz.

Firefighters know he won't be alone. An excessive heat warning is on the way and crews will be ready.

Ray Johnson is with the U.S. Forest Service and says that fire readiness training is underway.

It's the last full-scale, pull out the hoses drill the team will get before the season officially kicks off.

"We had two fires in the last week, one of them a quarter-acre on North Loop Trail caused by abandoned campfires," said Johnson.

Johnson is also being recognized for all he does to prevent wildfires.

On Thursday, he was awarded the 2017 Bronze Smokey Bear Award by the U.S. Forest Service, one of only five recipients in the entire country.

Johnson visits more than 50 schools every year, teaching kids about fire safety in the forest.

Jessica Gilmore is here from the Tonopah region, ready to handle any scenario that's thrown her way.

"Just like any skill, it's something that needs to be practiced," said Gilmore, a firefighter.

In this case, a campfire has spread up the hill. A spot fire breaks out and one member of the team goes down with a broken leg.

The emergency is staged, but the response is real.

"We're a tight-knit group. We know our places and what we're supposed to be doing," said Gilmore.

It's been four years since one of the worst wildfires in our area, burning through 28,000 acres on the mountain.

Carpenter 1 was sparked by lightning, but firefighters say, more recently, it's human-caused fires that have kept them busy.

Fire restrictions are now in place for the summer.

"No wood or charcoal fire anywhere except in developed recreation areas," said Johnson.

One emerging problem for firefighters on the mountain: drones, interfering with aircraft brought in to fight fires.

In fact, it happened over the weekend. Someone hoping for a selfie got too close.

"When this happens, we have to ground our aircraft. It's an unsafe situation," said Johnson.

It then creates the problem of threatening the safety of the pilot and firefighters on the ground.

It's a new worry as we head into summer and those hiking trails start filling up.

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