Thunderstorms, lightning ignite fires in Zion National Park

ST. GEORGE — A very active thunderstorm with significant lightning activity moved through Zion National Park Monday night, igniting several fires in the park and surrounding area, fires that appear to be out as of Thursday morning.

The Meridian Tower Fire, Zion National Park, June 30, 2015
The Meridian Tower Fire, Zion National Park, June 30, 2015 | Photo courtesy of David Eaker, St. George News | Click image to enlarge

The park received numerous calls from local residents reporting them. Some of the smaller ignitions may have already burned themselves out or received precipitation. The following information was gathered from an aerial overflight of the park conducted Tuesday afternoon.

Meridian Tower Fire

The Meridian Tower Fire is located near Meridian Tower in the Towers of the Virgin near the upper reaches of the Right Fork of Oak Creek. It is approximately 3 air miles from park headquarters near Springdale. It was estimated at one-half acre.

Phantom Fire

The Phantom Fire is located north of Church Mesa near Phantom Valley in the middle of the park, near the West Rim Trail. This fire was estimated at one-half to 1 acre and was visible from the north.

The Phantom Fire, June 30, 2015, Zion National Park | Photo courtesy of David Eaker, St. George News | Click image to enlarge
The Phantom Fire, June 30, 2015, Zion National Park | Photo courtesy of David Eaker, St. George News | Click image to enlarge

Remarks

Both the Meridian Tower and Phantom fires are located in very remote and rugged sections of the park. Due to their location, they have been managed under confine/contain strategies in which they are monitored by both ground and aerial resources. If either of the fires begins to increase in activity and or poses threats to park visitors or infrastructure, other management actions, including suppression, will be taken.

As of Wednesday, the Meridian Tower Fire was showing little activity and is not expected to grow significantly due to lack of fuel. The Phantom Fire is moderately active and growth is possible in the isolated Church Mesa area, but ultimately the fire is surrounded by rock. Smoke may be visible from these fires for the next few days. Fire managers with the park ask the public not report them.

As of Thursday, it is believed that both fires have burned out, David Eaker, fire communication and education specialist with Zion National Park, said. The only way to safely observe the fires is by helicopter, which were unable to fly Wednesday. However, he said, they saw no smoke from either fire and believe them to both be out.

A map showing where both fires were located can be found here.

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