UPDATED 11:45 a.m.
SOUTHERN UTAH – Fires that broke out Friday seem to have moderated somewhat overnight but are all currently under assessment. Those being addressed are in the Paiute Wilderness area of the Arizona Strip and two fires in the Veyo area.
Kenton Call, Fire Information Officer of Color Country Interagency Fire Responders, said they have no reports of, and are not addressing, any fires in the Toquerville or Virgin areas. He said those who thought they saw fires last night in the Washington County area were actually seeing the fires burning in the Arizona Strip.
Call confirmed St. George municipal dispatch information concerning a wildfire burning near Leeds, which has been named “The Moody Fire.” Color Country Interagency and BLM responders are on that fire. The community of Leeds is not threatened at this time. 40 acres is the originating estimate of that land affected.
“Right now [this morning], we’re focused on assessing what we have, getting crews on the ground most effectively and safely, and using aviation resources,” Call said. “Most of the resources are going to the Arizona Strip fires.”
During the initial break out of fires and the responders’ attacks, assessment numbers are sometimes “best guess” as the focus is on establishing management of the fire. “Initial attack in terms of firefighting is one of the most challenging phases because of the uncertainty; we have to be very conscientious of mismanagement – no fire operation is worth risking our fire fighters and the public,” Call said.
No containment percentages are yet being estimated and no current acreage assessments are available.
Although flames may not be as visible this morning from the highways, “what happens overnight is that fires tend to moderate as temperatures drop and humidity increases,” said Call. “Late afternoon and evening winds and high heat bring more activity.”
Call said that the biggest concern for the fire responders today is that “it is forecasted to be pretty much the same as yesterday, which means when we have lightning and thunderstorms we have high potential for more fire starts; and the weather pattern today is also bringing in unpredictable wind patterns. If the thunderstorms bring moisture, rain, that should be a good thing.”
Call corrected his first identification of the affected area of the Arizona Strip being the Parashant Wilderness; the area affected is now known to be the Paiute Wilderness.
While there was at least 10 start ups in that area last night, the count is now five fires.
“Quite honestly,” said Call, “we are still assessing; when lightning strikes we have a lot of starts – these will most likely be managed together. We have crews arriving from all over the state today and most of those resources are going to the Arizona Strip fires.”
Thus far, there are no road closures to be mindful of, no communities, persons or structures threatened, in the areas of either the Arizona Strip fires or the Veyo fires.
As the fire activity and assessments develop, St. George News will bring updates.
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