Smoke from wildfires in 3 states rolls into Southern Utah

Smoke coming into the St. George skies n Sept. 22, 2020, from the western wildfires. | Photo courtesy of Fredd Hernandez, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — An abundance of smoke from wildfires in Nevada, Arizona and California is making its presence known in Southern Utah and Mesquite, Nevada, Tuesday afternoon.

A map showing from blue to purple the concentrations of smoke emanating from the western wildfires into St. George as of Sept. 22, 2020. Each red dot indicates a wildfire. | Photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, St. George News | Click to enlarge

A dark-gray cloud of smoke could be seen creeping into the St. George area, with some residents reporting ash falling and the sun appearing dimmed.

The main source of smoke locally is the Virgin Mountain Fire 10 miles south of Mesquite.

Kirsten Cannon, spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management’s Southern Nevada division, said lightning sparked the fire around 6:27 p.m. Monday evening, which has since stretched to 3,000 acres. Cannon said there is no estimate at this time of containment.

“I’m not sure of the smoke direction, but it would totally make sense to me that it would be (in St. George),” Cannon said. “People in Mesquite have sighted it.”

The fire, located in higher mountainous terrain, is being attacked by ground and air. There is no threat to Mesquite at this time; no structures are threatened and no road closures or evacuations are currently in effect

“Smoke has been visible from this fire from Mesquite and Interstate 15 intermittently throughout the day,” Tyler Hecht, BLM Southern Nevada acting fire management officer, said in a statement. “If you are traveling in the area, please be cautious of the fire traffic.”

Smoke billows from the Virgin Mountain Fire as seen from Mesquite, Nevada, on Sept. 22, 2020. | Photo courtesy of Mesquite Fire and Rescue, St. George News

Adding less to the smokey haze, but still a factor, is the Lime Fire on the Arizona Strip about 12 miles southwest of St. George. The fire, which like the Nevada blaze was started by lightning Monday night, is 406 acres and 80% contained, according to a release from the Arizona Strip District of the Bureau of Land Management. The release describes the fire as “smoldering” at this point.

Along with those fires, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s smoke forecast indicates Southern Utah is continuing to get a steady stream of smoke from the wildfires in California, especially the Bobcat Fire that has burned more than 109,000 acres of Southern California’s Angeles National Forest.

That fire, which is threatening the famous Mount Wilson Observatory as well as parts of Pasadena, is still just 17% contained despite having been burning since Sept. 6.

NOAA forecasts the smoke to remain a part of the Southern Utah skies on Wednesday.

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

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