Fire crews spread thin as another fire ignites in Southern Utah

CEDAR CITY – Fire crews were already exhausted Friday when another they got hit with more flames to fight near Black Mountain in the Urie Creek area.

West Valley Fire near continues to rage growing to more than 7,000 acres Thursday – Photo courtesy of U.S. Forestry Service – Behind the Headlines

The Little Thunder Fire destroyed one cabin before firefighters were able to get it under control, Iron County Sheriff Lt. Del Schlosser said.

Authorities were unable to provide a lot of details about the fire but said crews had it contained within a short time before the flames spread to other structures located nearby.

Dry Canyon and Black Mountain Fires

Meanwhile, the Dry Canyon Fire that started Wednesday afternoon continues to hold at 23 acres and is now 95 percent contained. The fire is located in the Dry Canyon area off of state Route 143 at around Milepost 4. The cause of this fire is still unknown. However, officials are saying it was human caused.

According to a news release issued Friday evening the Black Mountain Fire located three miles south of Minersville is now approximately 6,000 acres. The fire is reported to be 30 percent contained.

Weather conditions have moderated from yesterday as the wind has died down.

Aircraft are securing strategic locations with fire retardant until additional handcrews arrive, the release stated.

Highway 130 is now open. Minersville Reservoir is also open to the public.

The Black Mountain Fire ignited Thursday afternoon at around 1 p.m. following a vehicle rollover that caused a spark to hit some dry brush.

The fire remains in the vicinity of Minersville Town with one seasonal cabin and a communications tower still threatened.

Fire resources include: five fire engines, four handcrews, two helicopters, two dozers and approximately 150 personnel.

No injuries or evacuations have been reported in the Black Mountain or Dry Canyon Fires. Details of this nature regarding the Little Thunder Fire are still unknown.

West Valley Fire

The West Valley Fire that started two days ago saw significant growth Thursday, reaching approximately 7,200 acres in size with no containment. Fire investigators have determined the fire to have been caused by an abandoned campfire.

According to a news release issued by the U.S. Forestry Service, the fire burned aggressively to the northeast Thursday until it hit the Mill Flat Fire scar from the infamous fire of 2009. The decreased fuels in the old fire scar slowed the fire’s progression. The fire continues to move slowly through that area.

New Harmony is not threatened at this time. A dozer, four engines, and two Type 1 handcrews are working in the New Harmony area, improving the existing fuel break and creating indirect line, should the fire push further in that direction.

Smokejumpers are working near the origin of the fire, using direct attack to hold the south flank. There has been little to no growth near the anchor of the fire. There are no evacuations at this time and no structures imminently threatened in the New Harmony area.

Approximately 10 homes on private land are potentially threatened near the Mill Flat Trailhead. Structure protection is in place as a precaution. These structures are located approximately 2 miles from the fireline.

While the Pine Valley Campground and Pine Valley Reservoir remain open a temporary area closure has been put in place by the Dixie National Forest from the Forest boundary west of New Harmony, and specifically lying west of Forest Road 029, the National Forest Boundary and the Pine Valley Wilderness Boundary, North of Pine Valley Wilderness Boundary, the Summit Trail and the Canal Trail, East of the Forest Road 011, and South of Forest Road 009. Forest Road 011 and Forest Road 035 to 4011 are also closed.

The Red Flag warning remains in effect until midnight Saturday. This hot, dry and windy weather is expected to create containment challenges for firefighters. Aerial support was grounded most of Thursday due to strong winds. Aircraft remains available. However, its use is dependent on favorable winds and safe flight conditions. Smoke will be highly visible throughout much of Iron and Washington Counties.

The West Valley Fire is located three miles northeast of Pine Valley Campground on the Dixie National Forest.

Resources assigned to the West Valley Fire include: eight engines, six handcrews, three heavy air tankers, four single engine air tankers, nine helicopters and two air attack platforms.

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