2019 Utah Wildfires: The Latest On Fires Burning Across The State | KUER 90.1

2019 Utah Wildfires: The Latest On Fires Burning Across The State

Sep 12, 2019

Updated 3:02 p.m. MDT 9/12/19:

The Neck Fire, 8 miles north of Cedar City, is now 100% contained. The fire, which started on September 5, has burned a total of 19,151 acres. It is the largest wildfire Utah has seen this year. 

Crews are now working to repair any damage resulting from the fire suppression effort, including refilling firebreaks, fixing fences and installing water run-off controls.

Authorities say the lightning-caused fire expanded quickly due to high winds and near record-level dryness in the area’s grassland and sagebrush — a side-effect of the weak monsoon season this year. 

No official restrictions are currently in place. Fire authorities are urging people across the Great Basin region from Nevada to western Wyoming and southern Idaho to be extra careful when putting out campfires or doing any activities that produce sparks, like operating machinery or driving off-road. 

The lightning-caused Meadow Creek Fire, which was discovered Sunday 2 miles east of Meadow in Millard County, has burned 4,321 acres in the Meadow Creek Drainage and is 45% contained. 

Authorities on Monday temporarily closed the area, which will remain in effect until Oct. 1.

A closure map of the Meadow Fire in Millard County. The closure order will remain in effect until Oct. 1 unless otherwise rescinded.
Credit Map courtesy of utahfireinfo.gov.

U.S. Forest Service investigators have identified two people who they suspect are responsible for the Gun Range Fire. The fire destroyed three homes, damaged eight others and burned more than 300 acres in Bountiful and Centerville in early September. Forest service investigators are working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine the severity of the charges, which could range from a roughly $200 ticket for failing to put out their campfire to the $525,000 used to suppress the blaze. 

So far, this fire season has been mild, thanks to heavy precipitation this past winter and spring. But fire officials are urging Utahns to be hypervigilant when it comes to fire safety as the state heads into fall.

Heather McLean, a fire prevention technician with the Manti-La Sal National Forest, told KUER that abundant grass crops — spurred by the year’s precipitation — are drying out and leading to increased risk.

“We’re starting to see more human-caused fires at higher elevations,” she said, adding that people need to drown their campfires with water, stir the coals and check their temperature before considering them safely extinguished. 

Utah Wildfire Info and Inciweb are currently tracking eight fires across the state — five of which are larger than 1,000 acres. 

  • The Blacksmith Fork Fire is a prescribed burn started east of Hyrum on Sept. 2. Officials plan to burn 2,700 acres.
  • The lightning-caused Meadow Creek Fire, which was discovered 2 miles east of Meadow, Utah, on Sunday, has burned 4,231 acres in the Meadow Creek Drainage and is 90% contained. 
  • The Neck Fire started with a lightning strike and was first reported to authorities on September 5. The fire has burned 19,151 acres 8 miles north of Cedar City. It is 100% contained, with crews now working to repair damage resulting from the fire suppression effort.
  • The Little Bear Fire, located about 7 miles southeast of Hatch, has been burning since July 26. Officials report that the fire was started by lightning or natural causes. It has grown to roughly 2,450 acres and is 40% contained. Officials plan to allow the fire to spread within predetermined boundaries in order to benefit the ecosystem and clear out fuels that could lead to future wildfires.

According to Heather McLean, this is the latest information on the following fires in Southeast Utah. 

  • The lightning-caused Peavine Canyon Fire in Southeast Utah continues to burn roughly 22 miles west of Blanding. The blaze began on July 16 and has burned 3,904 acres. It is 90% contained as of this update. 
  • The Poison Canyon Fire was caused by lightning on July 26. The fire has burned 1,520 acres about 22 miles northwest of Monticello and is roughly 85 to 90% contained. 

Both fires are still being monitored by on-site crews and have been limited to interior burning.