Fire crews win battle against 3 fires in Washington County; suppression efforts continue for Strawberry Fire

A retardant-dropping helicopter attacks the Cottonwood Trail Fire between Hurricane and Leeds, Utah, on July 19, 2020. | File photo courtesy Travis Phillips, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Hundreds of firefighters, a deluge of equipment, aircraft, hundreds of retardant drops and thousands of gallons of water later, three of the four wildfires reported in Washington County are contained.

West Veyo Fire continues to burn throughout the night, covering more than 2,900 acres, Washington County, Utah, July 13, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Janie Hawley, St. George News

While the Veyo West Fire is still burning, authorities say they will likely have it completely contained by Thursday evening. In Iron County, crews continue to battle the Strawberry Fire, which is 50% contained.

In Washington County, the Turkey Farm Road Fire, which started July 13 and burned through nearly 12,000 acres, and the Cottonwood Trail Fire, which burned near Interstate 15 near Leeds July 19 and was mapped at more than 1,600 acres, are both 100% contained, while the Veyo West Fire, which burned through more than 2,900 acres, is 99% contained.

The human-caused Moon Fire, which started July 17 near the Hurricane Cliffs area and burned through nearly 200 acres, was listed as 100% contained the following day.

In Iron County, the Strawberry Fire, which was first reported on Monday shortly after 2 p.m. in the Bowers Flat area just north of state Route 14 and near the Mammoth Creek Road northeast of Duck Creek, was mapped at more than 40 acres and is 50% contained. The blaze is primarily burning through Dixie National Forest timberland and was caused by a lightning strike.

Mike Melton, fire management officer for Utah’s Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands in Southern Utah, told St. George News the Veyo West Fire should be 100% contained by Thursday evening.

Melton also said that each of the fires, even those that are 100% contained, are still being manned and monitored by crews that have remained in the area who are continuing to search for hot spots or heat that could potentially reignite at a later time.

“We don’t want to turn our back on any of these areas, even if the fire is out,” Melton said.

He also said that a fire is not reported as completely contained until “we no longer find heat in the area,” meaning that the risk of the fire rekindling must be nonexistent. Then, and only then, he said, is a fire completely contained.

During the holiday weekend, fireworks are only permitted in specific locations, and in St. George, those areas are displayed on a map that can be accessed by clicking here.

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