Basin Fire now burning over 38,000 acres, extra measures taken to prevent spread of coronavirus

Fire managers working to extinguish the Basin Fire, Mesquite, Nevada, May 11, 2020 | Photo courtesy of BLM Arizona Fire Twitter page, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — As of Wednesday afternoon, the Basin Fire that was sparked by lightning Sunday afternoon has now grown to over 38,000 acres in critical tortoise habitat in the Pakoon Basin.

The fire is burning 21 miles southeast of Littlefield, Arizona and 33 miles south of St. George, Arizona Strip Public Affairs Officer Rachel Carnahan said in a press release issued Wednesday.

After starting around 2 p.m. on Sunday, the Basin Fire grew from 10,000 acres to 36,488 acres by Tuesday morning with 15% containment.

At around 3:40 p.m. Wednesday, the fire was approximately 38,288 acres and 65% contained.

“The decrease in winds and temperatures assisted with further containment and fire managers were able to fly crews into more remote areas of the fire,” she said.

Overhead view of the Basin Fire 33 miles south of St. George, Utah, May 11, 2020 | Photo courtesy of BLM Arizona/taken by #Landsat8, St. George News

Resources on the fire include eight engines, two Type 1 crews, one Type 2 initial attack crew and two helicopters.

The fuels feeding the fire are grass, brush and pinyon-juniper woodlands. There are no closures at this time and no structures are being threatened. Fire managers are requesting the public’s assistance in traveling cautiously in the remote Pakoon Basin to allow fire resources to access the fire.

To keep firefighters and communities healthy and safe, all firefighters are asked to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce the spread of illness.

“Reducing wildfire risk through fuels management remains as an essential Department of the Interior activity,” Carnahan said.

In addressing priority work, agencies are taking steps to limit the risks from COVID-19 to ensure the health and safety of firefighters.

Fire managers work to extinguish the Basin Fire located 20 miles southeast of Mesquite, Nevada, May 12, 2020 | Photo courtesy of BLM Arizona Fire Twitter page, St. George News

She said they are also taking action through established frameworks for consideration of impacts from prescribed fire, including the potential impact of smoke from prescribed burns on those who have contracted COVID-19 or who may be at risk.

According to an article by the Associated Press published Wednesday, the likelihood of the spread of COVID-19 in wildfire camps is quite high. This probability comes from a federal document obtained by the Associated Press, which said the problem could worsen throughout wildfire season.

Some of the challenges posed to firefighters at camps has to do with sharing vehicles and avoiding buffet-style meals. Many of them stay at a camp for weeks in order to combat a fire.

The U.S. Forest Service declined to comment on the document, saying that it was out of date, according to the article.

The article also pointed out that because of drought, the American West could see a higher rate of wildfires.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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