As wildfires rage, officials implement new fire restrictions in Southern Utah

A helicopter flies above Trail Mountain as a wildfire burns in the background, Emery County, Utah, June 11, 2018 | Photo courtesy of InciWeb, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — As a wildfire grows to more than 10,000 acres in size in central Utah and a blaze in southwest Colorado has forced over 1,000 home evacuations, officials are tightening fire restrictions.

Areas indicated in red display regions subject to fire restrictions on state and federal land in Utah as of June 15, 2018. The Navajo Nation has also implemented elevated fire restrictions on all reservation land (not displayed) | Image courtesy of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, St. George News

Across nearly the entirety of Southern Utah, stretching from the state’s west to east boundaries, officials have implemented some level of fire restrictions. New restrictions were implemented Friday in Carbon, Emery, San Juan and Grand counties, and existing restrictions have been elevated in the Navajo Nation.

Making campfires, lighting fireworks and using welding equipment are among the major activities banned as a result of the restrictions.

The fire restrictions’ high-caution approach to wildfire prevention comes in the face of very real fire danger. In central Utah, the Trail Mountain fire has reached approximately 10,600 acres in size. The fire started June 4 in the Manti-Lasal mountain range and is only 10 percent contained as of Friday morning.

A combination of excessive heat, high winds and drought conditions are contributing to high fire danger throughout Utah and other Western states, such as Colorado, where a large fire has burned through nearly 33,000 acres and required extensive evacuations. The human-caused fire is not expected to be fully contained until the end of June, according to fire managers.

A sawer helps fight a massive wildfire in Colorado referred to as the 416 fire, La Plata County, Colorado, June 11, 2018 | Photo courtesy of InciWeb, St. George News

Current and forecasted weather conditions – including gusty winds and low humidity – have the potential to cause fires to rapidly grow in size and intensity before first responders can contain them, according to the National Weather Service. As a result, red flag warnings have been issued throughout most of Southern Utah and southern Nevada.

Complicating the matter are new declarations of drought emergencies in Grand, Emery, Carbon and San Juan counties. Forests in these areas have become especially dry and susceptible to fire.

Even as a storm sweeps through a large portion of Utah Friday, the National Weather Service warns that new fire starts are possible from scattered thunderstorms accompanying the storm.

Read more: Hurricane’s residual rains to hit Utah, potentially causing flash floods

The new fire restrictions in Carbon, Emery, San Juan and Grand counties were issued via order Friday by the Utah Department of Natural Resources in all unincorporated private and state lands. Federal fire restrictions are also in place in national parks and monuments and lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Fire restrictions have already been in place in Washington, Iron, Beaver, Kane and Garfield counties since June 1 or earlier.

Read more: Fire managers extend restrictions, road closures for Southern Utah 5-county region

All of the affected regions include the following prohibitions:

  • Igniting, building, maintaining or using a fire, including charcoal briquettes.
  • Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area that is paved or free from vegetation.
  • Discharging or using any kind of fireworks, tracer ammunition or other pyrotechnic devices, including exploding targets.
  • Cutting, welding or grinding metal in areas of dry vegetation.
  • Operating a motorcycle, chainsaw, ATV or other small internal combustion engine without an approved and working spark arrester.

Stoves and grills fueled by petroleum or liquid propane gas products with a shut-off valve are allowed in areas clear of flammable vegetation within 3 feet of the device.

Borders of the Navajo Nation displayed in red, which falls in a portion of southeastern Utah. Fire restrictions were implemented on all reservation land June 14, 2018 | Image courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

In the Navajo Nation, President Russell Begaye signed an executive order Thursday implementing Stage 2 fire restrictions throughout the reservation, which includes a portion of southeastern Utah.

“All Navajo is now well aware, and cannot deny the state of extreme and exceptional drought facing our nation,” Begaye said in a statement. “For the safety of all living on Navajo, we are putting into effect Stage 2 Fire Restrictions.”

“I encourage everyone to be careful and to become familiar with the fire restrictions. The drought we are experiencing is affecting not only the people but also our plants, traditional herbs, crops, insects and livestock.”

The upgrade from Stage 1 to Stage 2 fire restrictions prohibits the following activities in the Navajo Nation:

  • Possession, manufacturing, sale or use of fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices.
  • All debris (trash) and field-clearing burning.
  • All wood burning, charcoal fires, campfires, warming fires and charcoal barbecues.
  • Use of firearms and incendiary devices without a valid permit.
  • The use and operation of chainsaws or any other internal combustion engines between the hours of 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Smokers should practice extreme caution. Smoking is recommended only in permitted areas and in an enclosed vehicle and for traditional and ceremonial uses.

Read more: ‘If it can spark, it can cause a fire’: Tips on preventing human-caused wildfires

For more information on fire restrictions and wildfires in Utah, visit the state’s fire info website.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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10 Comments

  • paul June 15, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    Maybe include BLM tell them quit starting the damn fires

    • bikeandfish June 16, 2018 at 11:27 am

      Do tell, what fires did the BLM start?

  • Striker4 June 15, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    Golly gee whiz such vulgar language . my goodness

    • Real Life June 16, 2018 at 11:06 am

      Your mom is getting really sick and tired of you living in her basement. It’s time. Put the video game controller down, get a job, and get an apartment. You can do it.

      • Striker4 June 16, 2018 at 11:26 am

        Awwww you po twiddle ting did somebody ruffle your pretty pink panties come sit on my lap and tell me all about it sweetie pie

        • Real Life June 16, 2018 at 1:41 pm

          Looks like I hit a nerve with a little bit of truth?

        • comments June 16, 2018 at 4:01 pm

          Dumpy is committed to mommy’s basement for the long haul. Bless his little heart. 😉

  • Uncle Lenny June 16, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Let’s reduce fireworks to just the specific holiday and only in designated public areas. No backyards, street venues or empty lots.

  • Kilroywashere June 16, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    Let’s add don’t burn down Santa Clara Heights. Mysterious fire behind my house almost caught the entire hill on fire. Let’s add shooting professional mortar fireworks 150′ from Elementary school yard over my neighbors,house across the street to land above my house at 930 PM on tbe day after Pioneer day. These were fireworks with 20′ diameter blooms that woke me up from a dead sleep that I subsequently saw through my skylight. PLEASE DON’T BURN MY HOUSE DOWN THIS YEAR. thanks. I am in a non fireworks zone. Much appreciated

  • utahdiablo June 16, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Ban Aerial Fireworks, thse were just allowed a few years back after being banned, so re-ban them as they cannot be controlled by any means

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