CEDAR CITY —Emergency crews medically evacuated a firefighter battling the Aspen Fire Thursday afternoon following a head injury that resulted from a fall.
According to a news release issued by Public Information Officer for Dixie National Forest Marcia Gilles, the patient is stable and in good condition at the hospital. No other details were available.
Located about 15 miles southwest of Cedar City on Bumblebee Mountain off state Route 56, the lightning-caused fire that started at around 3 a.m. Wednesday is now estimated at 355 acres.
Early estimates Wednesday afternoon put the fire at about 400 acres. However, Gilles said that number was an early appraisal and has since been confirmed to be lower.
As of Thursday at 7:30 p.m. the Aspen Fire was reported to be 5 percent contained.
“Firefighters did a fantastic job today working the area to contain the fire,” Gilles said.
There are 20 scattered structures, including homes and outbuildings that are currently threatened. Bumblebee Ridge Road is also closed.
The Iron County Sheriff’s Office worked with Color Country Interagency Fire Center Wednesday to set up safety protocols if evacuation is necessary.
As of Thursday morning, the fire was still determined to be about 3 miles away from where authorities would need to begin evacuating any residents from their homes, Sheriff’s Lt. Del Schlosser said and Gilles confirmed.
“We have not been advised of any major changes or any threat of evacuations, it’s still a possibility though,” Schlosser said. “But it’s our understanding they have made good progress containing the fire today.”
Nearly 89,000 gallons of fire retardant was dumped on the Aspen and Pine Canyon fires, while an unspecified amount of water was emptied on the Saddle Fire, all currently burning in Southern Utah. The Pine Canyon Fire was reported Wednesday afternoon to be at 60 acres with one crew on the ground and is located approximately two miles south of the Aspen Fire.
The Saddle Fire in the Pine Valley Wilderness area is reported to have burned approximately 103 acres. It is about 2 1/2 miles southwest of Pine Valley town. No area or road closures are in place at this time. No crews have been placed on the ground due to inaccessible steep terrain, said Mike Melton, fire management officer for the Southwest Utah area and a state aviation officer for the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
Ground crews are working to enhance fuel breaks by clearing vegetation near structures while two crews are securing anchor points, the news release stated.
Aerial operations continue and will continue as long as weather permits.
“A plane leaves the airport every three minutes to fly to the fire and drop retardant,” Bob Butler, Air Operations Branch Director said.
Local resources on scene include two engines from the U.S. Forest Service, one engine from the Bureau of Land Management and Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands Fuels Module, one engine from Zion National Park, one engine from Cedar City Fire Department, two dozers, one grader, Bonneville Hotshot crew, Color Country Type II crew, two aerial supervision aircraft for air attack, four single engine air tankers (SEATS), one Type III helicopter, three heavy air tankers and a Color Country Type III team. Two Utah and three Idaho hand crews are expected to arrive Thursday evening.
The Color Country Type III Incident Management Team continues to take every opportunity to utilize ground and aerial resources while reevaluating the fire. With that information, officials gain situational awareness to best plan the next actions and ensure success through the incident, Gilles said.
“The number one priority will be for firefighter and public safety,” Gilles said. “Cooperation and collaboration with other federal agencies, state, county and local agencies, are critical to safe and effective wildfire response.”
For more information on fires in Utah visit www.utahfireinfo.gov.
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