UPDATE: Oak Grove Fire increases to 943 acres

“Heavy air tankers continue to drop retardant on the Oak Grove Fire to help slow fire growth in terrain that is difficult to access while handcrews continue to make progress on constructing fire control line,” Washington County, Utah, Sept. 12, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, St. George News

WASHINGTON COUNTY – Fire crews continued making progress on the lightning-caused Oak Grove and Brown Trail fires containment operations Sunday, utilizing both aerial and ground resources on the wildfires located in the Pine Valley Wilderness area of Dixie National Forest.

The Oak Grove Fire

Pine Valley Ranger District makes progress in containing Oak Grove and Brown Trail fires in the Dixie National Forest Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness area, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 12, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, St. George News
Pine Valley Ranger District makes progress in containing Oak Grove and Brown Trail fires in the Dixie National Forest Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness area, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 12, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, St. George News

The Oak Grove Fire, ignited last Tuesday, increased to 943 acres with fifty percent containment, according to a media statement issued Sunday evening by the U.S. Forest Service, which also stated that aviation operations were halted as passing thunderstorms brought “erratic winds” Sunday afternoon.

“Even with the wind and thunderstorms crews continued to make progress today, bringing the fire containment to fifty percent before the rains this evening,” the Forest Service said in the statement. “Light precipitation helped dampen fire activity this afternoon keeping the fire southwest of the Oak Grove Campground and the Leeds Municipal Watershed.”

Additional moisture is expected to pass through the fire area Sunday night and Monday.

The Brown Trail Fire

The Brown Trail Fire, the second fire to break out in the Dixie National Forest Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness in the past week as storms passed through the area, ignited Friday and was declared contained Friday night.

The Forest Service released a brief update on the Dixie National Forest Facebook page stating that firefighters continued to secure the quarter-acre Brown Trail Fire Sunday by extinguishing areas of remaining heat.

“Containment lines on the Brown Trail Fire continued to hold through erratic winds,” according to the update.

Not the wilderness’ first rodeo

“Ponderosa pine trees, like the ‘Bee Tree’ seen here, can heal after being damaged by fire. The healing process is shown here on the edges of the cat face (an open triangular shaped fire scar) where the bark has started to grow and curl around the edges,” Washington County, Utah, Sept. 12, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, St. George News
“Ponderosa pine trees, like the ‘Bee Tree’ seen here, can heal after being damaged by fire. The healing process is shown here on the edges of the cat face (an open triangular shaped fire scar) where the bark has started to grow and curl around the edges,” Washington County, Utah, Sept. 12, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, St. George News

In the last 30 years, the Pine Valley Wilderness has experienced around five large fires, spanning 300-plus acres, according to one the Forest Service updates.

“The ‘Bee Tree,’ a popular point of interest near the Oak Grove Campground, shows its fire resiliency through the fire scars at the base of its trunk,” a Sunday update states. “One of the oldest trees in the vicinity at over 500 years old, the ‘Bee Tree’ is a member of the fire adapted species pinus ponderosa, or ponderosa pine, that historically experienced low intensity fires every 5-20 years.”

Naturally-occurring fires have reduced fuel buildup in the area while thinning out smaller tress and reducing high-severity fire risks. The fires created a mosaic pattern in the landscape, increasing the overall forest health and ability to recover from damage and disturbance.


READ MORE: How firefighters make wildfires work in our favor


Closures

Forest Roads No. 031, 032, 033 and 902 as well as the Oak Grove Campground remain temporarily closed. Browns Trail, Forsyth Trail, Equestrian Trail and the Summit Trails remain closed, as well. The forest closure order will continue until the fire danger subsides.

“Fire personnel want to thank the communities, partners and the public for their support, gifts of food, and kind words expressed,” Forest Service personnel said on Facebook, adding that they are especially grateful for all the treats that have been sent.

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Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

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2 Comments

  • paul September 14, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Talk about milkin it. Get it out This fire really seems to be getting dragged out

  • fun bag September 14, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    not a big deal, it’ll be out in no time

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