Cathedral Fire in Zion National Park burns on; trails reopen, caution urged

Cathedral Fire, started by lightning in Zion National Park, Utah, July 11, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

ZION NATIONAL PARKThe Cathedral Fire, currently burning in Zion National Park, was started by lightning from a thunderstorm that passed through the area Thursday.

Perimeter map of Cathedral Fire in Zion National Park, Utah, as of  11:30 a.m., July 13, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News
Perimeter map of Cathedral Fire in Zion National Park, Utah, as of 11:30 a.m., July 13, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News | Click on map to enlarge

The fire was first reported early Saturday morning, and is on Cathedral Mountain, just to the west of Angels Landing, on a mesa top with difficult access.

There was little activity on the fire last night, David Eaker, fire communication and education specialist with Zion National Park, said in a statement released Monday.

The Cathedral Fire is now estimated at 51 acres, and fire behavior is moderate with creeping and smoldering and occasional torching of trees.

Embers from the fire have rolled off the mesa top onto the north and east sides of Cathedral Mountain.

The east side is showing no fire activity and the north side remains active in an isolated timber stand, the statement said. Due to its location and access and egress issues, it is not safe to put firefighters near the fire.

The fire is not threatening any park resources at this time, and is being monitored by park firefighters. Flames and smoke may be visible from the very popular Angels Landing Trail located nearby, and from other points in the park.

Fire is a natural and important component of the Zion National Park ecosystem and a regular occurrence on isolated mesa tops like Cathedral Mountain, the statement said.

Park officials believe that fire is vital to the Zion National Park landscape because it both restores the health of the fire-dependent ecosystem and reduces the risk of future catastrophic wildfires.

The Cathedral Fire is burning atop a mesa at Zion National Park, Utah, July 11, 2015 | Photo courtesy Zion National Park
The Cathedral Fire is burning atop a mesa at Zion National Park, Utah, July 11, 2015 | Photo courtesy Zion National Park

As long as there are no direct threats to visitor safety or park resources, it will be allowed to play its natural role.

The lower section of the West Rim Trail, including the trail to Angels Landing, has been reopened. 

Hikers should use caution along the West Rim Trail in the vicinity of Refrigerator Canyon and be aware that debris from the fire may still fall down from the mesa top. Visitors are asked not to linger in this area. 

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