Wildfire near Mesquite still at 0% containment, smoke expected to build in St. George overnight

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

ST. GEORGE — The Virgin Mountain Fire that has driven a majority of the smoke over St. George in the past 24 hours remains at 0% containment.

The smoke stream from both this fire and the Southern California wildfires has been moving more north on Wednesday but is expected to veer back toward the Southern Utah area overnight.

The fire, which was started by a lightning strike Monday night, has burned 1,232 acres in Nevada’s Virgin Mountain Instant Study Area within the Gold Butte National Monument 15 miles south of Mesquite, according to Kirsten Cannon, spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management’s Southern Nevada division.

There are no structures threatened or evacuations, but Cannon said there is a threat to wildlife in the area.

“The Virgin Mountain Fire’s potentially threatened resources include bighorn sheep habitat, mule deer habitat, Virgin Mountain Instant Study Area, Virgin repeater site at higher elevations and desert tortoise habitat at lower elevations,” Cannon said in a statement.

A map showing from blue to purple the concentrations of smoke emanating from the western wildfires into St. George as of Sept. 23, 2020. Each red dot indicates a wildfire. | Photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, St. George News | Click to enlarge

Mesquite residents are still getting the brunt of the smoke, and while no evacuations are in order, residents are asked to avoid the Cabin Canyon Road off of state Route 24, also known as the Lime Kiln Road, because of heavy fire traffic.

A haze remained in the St. George sky Wednesday, though not to the extent it was Tuesday afternoon. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map of the smoke being produced by all of the Western fires showed a change toward a more northern path early Tuesday.

However, according to NOAA, that may change late Wednesday. The smoke forecast has the smoke path – especially from the Virgin Mountain Fire – veering back toward St. George around 11 p.m. Wednesday night and could be in the air as kids head to school and adults head to work in the morning.

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

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