Containment in sight for Veyo, Turkey Farm fires; authorities searching for suspect vehicle

Smoke billows from the Turkey Farm Road Fire heading toward hundreds of homes off of North Green Springs Drive, Washington City, Utah, July 14, 2020 | File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Containment is in sight for two fires that started last week near Veyo and off of Turkey Farm Road just north of St. George, and authorities have provided photos of a vehicle suspected of being in the area where the Turkey fire started.

Smoke billows from the Turkey Farm Road Fire in Southern Utah, July 14, 2020 | File photo courtesy of Gerard Dauphinais, St. George News

The Turkey Farm Road Fire, which burned through nearly 12,000 acres, is now 85% contained as state, federal and local fire crews continue to patrol the perimeter, checking for hot spots as needed to prevent any areas from reigniting. 

“We will have crews there until there is no longer a threat of the fire getting out of the footprint it’s already left there,” Mike Melton, fire management officer for Utah’s Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands in Southern Utah, told St. George News Monday. 

Melton added that conditions could change if strong winds or other weather conditions somehow cause the fire to reignite, including air temperature, which has a direct influence on the way a fire ignites and spreads.

Similarly, the Veyo West Fire that burned through nearly 3,000 acres is 90% contained, and crews from multiple agencies continue to monitor the perimeter and mop up any hot spots to prevent reignition.

A white passenger car that was possibly involved in the Turkey Farm Road fire that started in Washington County, Utah, July 13, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Utah Fire Info, St. George News

With the progress crews on both fires have made over the last several days, there has been a drop in the number of firefighters and resources assigned to the burns, “but that doesn’t mean we aren’t staying on top of them, ” Melton said, as crews will remain in the area until the threat is removed.

On Friday, new information on the vehicle believed to be connected to the Turkey Farm Road Fire was obtained by investigators who are asking for the public’s help. Anyone who recognizes the vehicle or has any information on the three teenagers seen inside of the car July 13 is being asked to call 775-355-5337.

The newest fire, the Cottonwood Trail Fire, started Sunday afternoon when a tire blew out and set the dry grasses and brush alongside the shoulder of southbound Interstate 15 on fire. The blaze then spread to more than 3,000 acres. According to an update issued shortly before noon Monday, the fire is now at 1,630 acres and is 35% contained.

Smoke from the West Veyo Fire billows into the air, Southern Utah, July 13, 2020 | File photo courtesy of Janie Hawley, St. George News

Two Southern Utah fires make it on Wildfire Wednesday’s weekly report

During the past week, there have been 71 new fires statewide as of July 12, adding to the 698 fires that have burned a total of 150,000 across Utah so far this year.    

“These are alarming stats, particularly when compared to the 284 starts in 2019, and 445 in 2018 during the same period,” Kait Webb with Utah’s Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands said during a weekly update July 15. 

The Turkey Farm Road Fire was listed as No. 1 on the list of six notable fires burning throughout the state, while the West Veyo Fire was listed as No. 2. Both fires, and the 80% of all fires across Utah so far this year, were human-caused, she said.

The Color Country team also expressed appreciation for the support provided to the crews from the community over the past week.

Kevin Abel with the Dixie National Forest echoed their sentiment.

“We’ve got crazy support from these local volunteer departments who have stepped in to help and are working so hard to protect the structures and so on,” he said. “We really couldn’t do it without these local departments.” 

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

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