Aspen Fire: Fast-moving flames continue to devour terrain; winds halt air attack

Smoke from the Aspen Fire burning about 15 miles southwest of Cedar City can be seen rising overhead Wednesday, Cedar City, Utah, June 15, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George News/Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY – Wind-driven flames continue to feed a growing wildfire located about 15 miles southwest of Cedar City.

The fast-moving fire has already burned 400 acres and is threatening 20 structures in the area off state Route 56, authorities said Wednesday.

Smoke from the Aspen Fire burning about 15 miles southwest of Cedar City can be seen rising overhead Wednesday, Cedar City, Utah, June 15, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George News/Cedar City News
Smoke from the Aspen Fire burning about 15 miles southwest of Cedar City can be seen rising overhead Wednesday, Cedar City, Utah, June 15, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George News/Cedar City News

Gusty winds shut down fire fighting air operations midafternoon, grounding tankers and a helicopter carrying fire retardants and water. A second fire dubbed the Pine Canyon Fire, located a few miles south of the Aspen Fire, has already burned 60 acres.

Smoke can be seen by motorists traveling along Interstate 15 and by residents from nearby towns.

According to a press release issued by Marcia Gilles, public information officer with Dixie National Forest, Color Country Interagency Fire Center received a report of a fire on Bumblebee Mountain in the Pine Valley Ranger District of Dixie National Forest.

The call came in around 3 a.m. but officials didn’t mobilize until about 7 a.m. said Mike Melton, fire management officer for the southwest Utah area and state aviation officer for Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

At that time, only around 5 acres had burned but by 3:30 p.m. that number had increased to 400 acres, Giles said.

Smoke from the Aspen Fire burning about 15 miles southwest of Cedar City can be seen rising overhead Wednesday, Cedar City, Utah, June 15, 2016 | Photo courtesy Jesse Applegate, St. George News
Smoke from the Aspen Fire burning about 15 miles southwest of Cedar City can be seen rising overhead Wednesday, Cedar City, Utah, June 15, 2016 | Photo courtesy Jesse Applegate, St. George News

The fire, coined the Aspen Fire, was started by lightning that passed through Southern Utah in the last couple of days, Melton said.

“We have several lightning fires that have started up all over,” Melton said.

The fire continues to be fueled by dry grass, brush and timber, the statement said.

Local resources are on scene and air support assisted most of the day. However, high winds have made it impossible for the planes to continue to fly, Gilles said.

“There are wind gusts reaching up to 40 miles per hour so they had to quit. It wasn’t safe anymore but as soon as it is, the planes will be back up and flying,” Gilles said.

There are no road closures at this time however there are several structures, including homes, approximately 3 miles north of the fire off SR-56 that are threatened.

Smoke seen from approximately mile marker 38 on Interstate 15 | Photo courtesy of Hollie Reina, St. George News
Smoke seen from approximately mile marker 38 on Interstate 15 | Photo courtesy of Hollie Reina, St. George News

The Iron County Sheriff’s Office is currently working with Color Country Interagency on this issue.

“The Sheriff’s Office is working with Color Country to determine safety protocols if any potential evacuations are implemented today or throughout the fire suppression efforts,” Sheriff’s Lt. Del Schlosser said.

Local resources on scene Wednesday are two engines from the Forest Service, one engine from the Bureau of Land Management and Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, an aerial supervision aircraft, five single engine air tankers, one Type III helicopter, and a Color Country Type III team.

Orders have been placed for two Type I or Type II crews and one lead plane. At least 80 personnel are assigned to the Aspen Fire or are en route.

For more information on fires in Utah visit utahfireinfo.gov.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

4 Comments

  • .... June 16, 2016 at 6:35 am

    Good Morning ladybug ☆

    • Real Life June 16, 2016 at 8:15 am

      Looks like somebody’s got a stalker.

  • ladybugavenger June 16, 2016 at 9:23 am

    ?

    • .... June 16, 2016 at 8:22 pm

      My my did anybody tell you. you have lovely eyes LOL !

Leave a Reply