Wildfire near Beaver 50% contained; increase in smoke expected during week

Smoke from the Skull Flat Wildfire burning five miles east of Beaver, Utah, June 27, 2019 | Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — About 150 firefighters continue to battle the Skull Flat Fire just east of Beaver, but containment has increased substantially as of Saturday evening.

Vegetation burns in the Skull Flat Fire near Beaver, Utah, July 3, 2019 | Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service, St. George News

The lightning-caused wildfire stands at just over 1,500 acres in size and is 50% contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Currently, crews are focusing on containment lines on the east and south sides of the fire.

Fire managers are allowing the fire to burn in pockets of dead and overgrown vegetation in an effort to improve the Beaver City Watershed. According to the Forest Service, these portions of the fire pose access challenges to firefighters and are located in steep and rocky terrain.

The fire has been burning for over two weeks since it started June 18. It is expected to reach full containment by Friday evening.

The firefighting force currently encompasses five hand crews, four fire engines and thee helicopters.

Map shows containment of the Skull Flat Fire near Beaver, Utah, as of July 2, 2019 | Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service, St. George News

Fire officials have used aerial ignition techniques that include torching the area by helicopter to help speed the burning process in an effort to reduce smoke in area communities. However, with the fire’s current trajectory through overgrowth, higher volumes of smoke are expected to be visible from Beaver and the surrounding area throughout the week.

The fire is projected to help reduce the risk of future fires and will allow groundwater to better seep into the earth. According to the Forest Service, it will also improve wildlife habitat by producing new plant growth for foraging and shelter.

Additionally, fire managers say an old aspen grove in the area will have a better chance of regenerating after the fire. With a clear forest floor, the trees will have less vegetation to compete with and less debris to reduce groundwater seepage.

The Forest Service urges caution for travelers on state Route 153 as fire equipment will be operating in the surrounding area throughout the holiday weekend.

Updates and information about this and other fires can be found at InciWeb.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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