Quail Fire, near Leeds triggers evacuation

Quail Fire in Leeds, Utah, June 23, 2012 | Photo by Jim Vasquez, St. George News
Quail Fire in Leeds, Utah, June 23, 2012 | Photo by Jim Vasquez, St. George News

Update 10:20 p.m. Washington County Emergency Services has just posted the following:  All evacuations have been lifted in Leeds. About 600 homes will be without power until around midnight. Parts of Old 91 will remain closed.

Update 10:10 p.m: Paul Dunsdon of the Red Cross said at 10:05 p.m. that the
Red Cross Reception Center at the Leeds Chapel is closed for the night. Power is back on in most of the town.

Dunsdon said that evacuation orders remain in place for a few streets at the north end of town. But that the rest of the evacuation orders have been lifted.

Anyone needing assistance may call the 1-800-RED-CROSS or request assistance from the Leeds Fire Department.

Update 9:41 p.m:  Color Country Interagency Public Information Officer Scott Sticha released the following information:

Fire size at 8 p.m. was assessed at approximately 1,200 acres.

It is 10 percent contained.

Color Country Interagency fire investigators have determined that this fire was a human ignited fire caused by debris burning. The public is reminded that statewide fire restrictions remain in effect on all state, federal and unincorporated private lands.

High temperatures, low humidity, strong and erratic winds, explosively dry fuels, and medium-range spotting propelled this human caused fire north and east around the community of Leeds.  Aircraft and engines are supporting fire crews with suppression efforts on the Quail Fire.  The fire is currently being managed by a Type III Incident Commander under Unified command with State of Utah, Hurricane Valley Fire District and the Bureau of Land Management.

Two outbuildings have been burned and structures in Leeds and in the Babylon area are threatened along with Desert Tortoise habitat.

There are no road closures in effect as of this update.  The public as asked to not stop along I-15 to watch the fire.

LEEDS –The 1000-acre Quail Fire near Leeds has triggered the closure of roads and the evacuation of some residents Saturday afternoon.

Bill Roach, manager of Color Country Interagency Fire, said the fire was reported at 2:50 p.m. Multiple resources have been called in to help combat the blaze. Dispatch has also described the fire as fast-moving.

One outbuilding, a shed, has been destroyed due to the fire. Still, Washington County Emergency Services also said fire is still moving toward homes on the north end of Leeds. Fire units are doing what they can to  protect threatened structures.

John Carter, a Leeds resident, said he and others were evacuated around 4 p.m. due to the fire. He also said the blaze had reached a neighbor’s property, and that the wind was blowing in the direction of his home and others.

The American Red Cross has been activated and evacuees are advised to standby at the Leeds Chapel until shelter arrangements are made. The evacuation area involves southeast side of Leeds, Valley and Babylon Mills.

Large animals can be housed at the County Fair Grounds. Please stay out of the ares unless you are a part of the response or a local resident. In order to evacuate large animals from the Leeds area, residents can contact 435-467-1497 to make arrangements.

Carter tried to return to his home around 6:30 p.m. but was unable to. His home and neighbors’ homes were still standing, however. He remarked that many vehicles surrounding his home, making it looking like a command center.  His home and others near were no long in danger.

Of the firefighters, Carter said, “They’re doing a good job.”

Washington County Emergency Services officials are estimating that evacuees may be able to return to their homes sometime tonight.

No injuries have been reported.

The fire has also caused the closure of I-15 Exit 22, as well as SR-318 from SR-9 to SR-91. The exit and roads have been reopened as of 5:40 p.m.

As of 7 p.m.,  firefighting resources include around 32 engines, tenders and brush trucks, one single engine air tanker, one heavy air tanker and two helicopters.

Power outages are being reported from Leeds to the Sand hollow area, though power is estimated to be restored late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

At 8:15 p.m St. George News spoke with Paul Dunsdon, Disaster Action Team Coordinator with the American Red Cross, Southwest Utah Region. Dunsdon said the Red Cross has been at the Leeds Chapel at Main Street and Cherry Lane since 7 p.m. He said the initial evacuations were mandatory emergency evacuations for five residences, the rest who have evacuated have done so voluntarily.

Dunsdon said fire fighters are mopping up hot spots on the north end, that from his talks with Leeds Fire Chief Steve Lewis it is now hot spot management.

There is little smoke now.

There still is no power in many areas.

“We’re still here and available,” Dunsdon said, “we have good shady grassy areas people are welcome to come, get away from the hear and relax.” Dunsdon said he will be dispensing information on the fire to the public as he receives it from Incident Command.
The fire is human caused and is under investigation.

Winds and lightning are in the forecast for tomorrow.

More information will be posted as it becomes available.

Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report.

Quail Fire in Leeds, Utah, 4:45 p.m. June 23, 2012 | Photo by Jim Vasquez, St. George News
Quail Fire, driving by on I-15, Leeds, Utah, sometime around 5 p.m. on June 23, 2012 | Photo by Lori Hunt-Gentry for St. George News
Quail Fire in Leeds, Utah, taken from Coral Canyon just after it started, June 23, 2012 | Photo by Disciple Doug for St. George News
Quail Fire, Leeds, Utah, June 23, 2012 | Photo by Lori Hunt-Gentry, St. George News
American Red Cross at Leeds Chapel to assist during Quail Fire, Leeds Utah, June 23, 2012 | Photo by Summer Kirby, St. George News

 

 

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com
Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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