Fire Responders face limited resources and many fires, Baboon Fire growing

Baboon Fire near Minersville, Utah, started 12:30 p.m. increased to 17,000 acres by 9 p.m., July 12, 2012 | Photo by Nick Howell, Fire Mitigation and Education Specialist, Color Country Interagency Fire Response Team

Update July 13, 10:10 a.m. The Baboon Fire is reported at 18,000 acres. Circle Four farms were evacuated and those evacuations are lifted. Highway 130 is open. Area is remote and information from crews is being relayed by phone and tweeted. We’ll post and do a story as appropriate when more detail is received.

Update 11 p.m. Photos of the Baboon Fire added. Fire reported to have no containment. Howell said it was lightning caused.

Update 10 p.m. The Baboon Fire has grown to 17,000 acres.

ST. GEORGE – Between yesterday and today, there have been about 14 new fire starts across Washington, Iron and Beaver Counties, as well as those in the area of the Arizona Strip reported separately. Most of the new starts are thought to be ignited by lightning strikes, although causes are still under investigation.  One of the new starts, now out, was caused by illegal fireworks used in violation of the fireworks restrictions in place.

The Baboon Fire 

Baboon Fire near Minersville, Utah, started 12:30 p.m. increased to 17,000 acres by 9 p.m., July 12, 2012 | Photo by Nick Howell, Fire Mitigation and Education Specialist, Color Country Interagency Fire Response Team

The Baboon Fire, as it has been named, is burning four miles south of Minersville and presents the greatest concern presently.  At 4:30 p.m. today, the Baboon Fire is estimated at 2,000 acres and growing.  There is no containment.

Minersville, northwest of Cedar City, Utah, is the closest community to the Baboon Fire but it is not considered threatened at this time.  Highway 130, also known as the Minersville Highway, was closed for a time but has currently reopened.  Winds have shifted from blowing out of the west to now blowing from the east, actually pushing the fire away from the highway. Thus, there are no evacuation orders and no road closures in place and none anticipated in the immediate.

Rocky Mountain Power has deactivated a power line to the Baboon repeater site as a precautionary measure as the fire has moved into the area of those lines. Nick Howell, fire investigator and public information officer for Color Country said the power deactivation should not affect any local communities yet.

Baboon Fire near Minersville, Utah, started 12:30 p.m. increased to 17,000 acres by 9 p.m., July 12, 2012 | Photo by Nick Howell, Fire Mitigation and Education Specialist, Color Country Interagency Fire Response Team

The challenge for Color Country Interagency fire responders today is a lack of resources combined with multiple fire starts. Howell said “we are super short on resources.”  Currently, the Milford and Beaver fire departments are fighting the fire with one SEAT and two Type III Helicopters working the fire from the air.

The interagency local Type III team which has been on the Shingle Fire is removing to the Baboon Fire. Type III, Type II and Type I commands relate to the complexity of the fire and the amount of overhead, training, management and team communication the commands can bring to the fire.  Type II teams have been around more complex fires – it could be with regard to structures, homes or the terrain itself – and typically train and remain together as a team over time.  A Type II Team was brought in from Oregon to manage the Shingle Fire at its peak, then the local firefighting Type III team resumed control.  While the Shingle Fire is not entirely out, it is winding down with ongoing rehab and the working of hot spots.

Human caused fire in Washington County 

Yesterday a fire was started just south of Mile Marker 16 off Highway 9, west of Virgin.  Howell said it was fully contained last night at one acre. He said the fire was started by individuals using illegal fireworks in violation of existing fireworks restrictions. They were identified and cited.

Limited Resources, many fires

The difficulty in getting resources to the several fires burning, Howell said, comes because there is a lot of fire activity in Idaho, some in Wyoming and multiple fires throughout Utah that lightning has started, as well as those in the region of the Arizona Strip.

Of Howell’s estimated 14 fire starts in two days, most are out in the west desert of Southern Utah, in Iron and Beaver counties.

Email: jkuzmanic@stgnews.com

Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright 2012 St. George News. 


 

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