ST. GEORGE – Smoke rising from the northeast Wednesday has left some Washington County residents wondering whether a new wildfire has ignited out toward Brian Head. State fire officials confirmed that is not, as the smoke is originating from controlled burns they are conducting in the Kolob area.
“We’re doing some pile burning on private land conducted by state fire personnel,” said Mike Melton, area fire management officer for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
The burning is being done as a part of an improvement and hazardous fuels mitigation program the state oversees, Melton said.
“We burn piles all over the county every year. We have been burning piles in this area every year for the past six years,” Washington County Fire Warden Adam Heyder said in a text to St. George News.
Sometimes referred to as prescribed, or Rx burns, controlled burns by state and federal officials are typically conducted when conditions are right for it. In this case, there’s about six inches of snow on the ground, which helps keep the fires from spreading beyond their burn piles, Melton said.
“We’re been waiting and waiting to get snow up there,” he said. “We have to take it when Mother Nature gives it.”
A purpose of the burns to clear away potential materials a wildfire could consume and use to keep spreading across the landscape.
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