Cathedral Fire burns on; final update, barring significant change

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

ZION NATIONAL PARK — The Cathedral Fire, currently burning in Zion National Park, is showing little activity Tuesday, according to a press release from Zion National Park. Officials are letting the fire burn and don’t plan to release any future updates unless the fire burns out or any significant change is seen.

The Cathedral Fire was started by lightning from a thunderstorm that passed through the area Thursday evening. It was first reported early Saturday morning. The fire is located on Cathedral Mountain, just to the west of Angels Landing, on a mesa top with difficult access.

There was little activity on the fire Monday night and Tuesday. The size of the fire is estimated at 51 acres. Fire behavior is low with creeping and smoldering. Much of the fire area is now showing little activity, with most of the active areas along the fire’s northern and western flanks.

The fire has burned to slickrock in many areas, and in other places it is running out of fuel to carry it. There are some pockets of thick vegetation that the fire might ignite, but it is not expected to experience much growth. Smoke from the fire may still be visible from some places in Zion Canyon and from the Scout Lookout/Angels Landing areas.

Fire is a natural and important component of the Zion National Park ecosystem and a regular occurrence on isolated mesa tops like Cathedral Mountain, according to a spokesperson from Zion National Park. Park officials believe that as fire both restores the health of this fire-dependent ecosystem and reduces the risk of future catastrophic wildfires, it is vital to the Zion National Park landscape. As long as there are no 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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