Zero Containment on Utah Hill / Apex / Cottonwood Wildfire

Cottonwood Fire
Color Country firefighter Cory Martin conducting a firing operation in an attempt to stop the fire's progression along the Apex Road. Photos courtesy of Cortney Crosby, BLM Fire Prevention.

Cottonwood Fire
Photos courtesy of Cortney Crosby, BLM Fire Prevention.

UPDATE 1:50 P.M.

The fire originally referred to as the Utah Hill fire, then named the Apex fire after the old mine in the region, and now being referred to as the Cottonwood Wildfire currently is zero percent contained.  That said, the fire fighting responders do have a goal they believe is attainable of 100% containment by 2200 hours today (9:00 P.M.) tonight, according to Kelly Washburn, Public Information Officer for BLM.

Washburn says that this fre started last night at approximately 9 P.M. and is approximately ten miles west of St. George near the Jarvis Peak.  It is off the Apex road, as earlier reported.

As of 11:30 A.M. this morning, Washburn says that 1,026 acres had burned, according to BLM’s determination using GPS devices.

Washburn confirms at this hour that no structures are threatened, there are no evacuations in effect, and that the only road closure now in effect is the Apex road (one of the dirt roads), just to prevent anyone from going up that road and interfering with the fire fighting effort.

No further determination has been made concerning the cause of the fire, investigators are on location, according to Washburn.

Fire crews and resources from the collective agencies, local, state and federal, engaging this fire include, per Washburn’s detail:  7 engines, 1 water tender, 1 Type 3 Incident Command, 2 field crews (manpower).  There is no air support active at this time.

Fire season is obviously upon Southern Utah and all are encouraged to exercise extra caution, recreating and camping, be careful, make sure campfires are out completely, and, as Washburn summarized, common sense is urged.

UPDATED 9:37 A.M.

IVINS – A brush fire is burning on Utah Hill this morning, with no communities threatened at this time.  It does not appear to be anything as sizable as the Barns Fire on other parts of the Shivwits Indian Reservation, which burned over 1,200 acres last week, though it has burned 800 to 1,000 acres so far.

Utah Hill is located west of Santa Clara off County Road Old 91, and part of it is included within the Shivwits Reservation.

Pete Kuhlmann, Washington County Emergency Services Director, (and former fire chief of Ivins) says that there is at least one Ivins Fire Truck on scene, as well as State fire resources and those of the Bureau of Land Management.

“No communites are at risk at this point, no roads are being closed, you can still go over Utah Hill but we’d recommend that people stay out of that area, particularly the dirt roads.”

Kuhlmann says that the first call to Washington County for assistance came in between 3:00 and 4:00 A.M. today, believes BLM was out there before that.

“When I talked to the state guy, at this point the start of the fire is undetermined, whether natural or otherwise.  We did have some weather cells that moved through that might have caused it but at this point the cause is under investigation.”

Kuhlmann says that they are working to contain the fire within the parameters of the dirt roads in the region.

Washington County Sheriff’s Department Detective Nate Abbott inquired of many officials who might be engaged and did not discern anything as alarming as last week’s fire. He was able to confirm that the fire is out towards the old Apex Mine.

“The Apex Mine used to be a really big operation,” says Abbott, “it is up a dirt road beyond the Gunlock turnoff from Old 91, well beyond any residential area.”

St. George News is awaiting information from BLM as its information officers are debriefed and able to provide further detail.  We will post updates as news develops.

According to Washington County Emergency Services, a red Flag Warning is in effect for the Washington County later today. Red Flag weather can cause unpredictable and intense fire behavior. Please use caution with tools, vehicles, and fire in the wilderness area of the county, and stay away from wildfires currently burning. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

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