AP NEWS

Trail Mountain fire update

June 21, 2018

PRICE — What began as the Trail Mountain Prescribed Burn has now grown to affect 14,429 acres, as of press deadline. The fire is considered to be 43 percent contained. Several area closures are in effect including forest roads, trails, campgrounds and at times State Road 31 (SR31) in Huntington Canyon has been closed. The fire is located approximately 15 miles northwest of Orangeville.

Background

On June 6, a prescribed burn area fire escaped and went across Cottonwood Canyon Road to East Mountain and initially burned 300 acres.

Fire crews had been working to keep the fire contained, but on the evening of June 10, high winds hit the ridgetops with wind gusts of 55 miles per hour, which grounded all aircraft and pushed the fire northeast into Meetinghouse Canyon. The fire also moved south to Whetstone Creek where a cabin was burned June 11.

The fire has been burning in mixed conifer, with large amounts of standing, bug-killed trees and downed timber.

Juniper and sage have also burned but only in the most severe conditions. Columns of heavy smoke have been visible in local communities and residents have traveled into Huntington Canyon at times to get a glimpse of the fire.

Fire management

The Great Basin Type 2 Incident Management Team 4 was initially used for fire suppression, but on June 13, due to the increased complexity of the fire, a Type 2 Incident Management Team was brought in to relieve local resources.

Under Incident Commander Tim Roide, the firefighters continued full suppression efforts on the fire, utilizing ground and aerial resources. The team’s objectives have included keeping the fire west of Huntington Canyon Road (SR31) and minimizing the impact to private property, infrastructure and natural resources.

An incident command post was established at Emery High School in Castle Dale, to provide firefighters with food, water, sleeping areas, medical supplies, and other support. To save on travel time, some firefighters established a spike camp in the forest away from the Incident Command Post.

Resources

Firefighting resources used have included as many as eight helicopters, 23 fire engines, water tanker trucks and 15 crews containing over 600 personnel and vehicles.

Residents and visitors to the Castle Dale area have dealt with increased traffic in and around the area and along SR31. Firefighters and equipment have worked in close proximity to SR31 and it has been periodically closed due to conditions including poor visibility from smoke inversions.

Operations

Firefighters are using natural and manmade barriers to help contain the fire perimeter and reduce firefighter risk in the thick brush and timber. Rocky ridges and roads are examples of barriers being evaluated.

Preparation of these indirect fire lines have included the removal of vegetation to widen the barrier. Where terrain allows, firefighters are also using dozers to create fire lines around infrastructure in the event the fire reaches those structures.

Additionally, helicopters have supported ground crews by dropping water on the fire, allowing firefighters to work directly along the fire perimeter.

By June 15, the fire was burning primarily in Mill Fork Canyon, where it burned against the wind towards East Mountain and toward Little Bear Creek Canyon on the northern portion of the fire.

The fire also reached the ridge just south of Crandall Canyon by June 16 and firefighters thinned vegetation and installed sprinkler systems around the Crandall Canyon Mine Memorial and adjacent areas in the event the fire reached that location.

Over the weekend, June 16-17, Firefighters took advantage of terrain, variations in vegetation types, and favorable weather conditions to build fire lines directly along the active fire boundary.

This work occurred along most of the southern perimeter of the fire and parts of the eastern and western perimeters.

Containment

The fire has been contained in some areas. In those areas crews will be patrolling and starting some repair work including scattering cut vegetation, stabilizing soils, removing hazardous fire-weakened trees, clearing roads, clearing streams and installing water bars to manage water and sediment.

There is a high voltage power line in the path of the fire that has been turned off. Reports are that it has not been significantly damaged. Utility companies have started visiting areas near Meetinghouse and Mill Fork Creeks to assess impacts of the fire on power lines and water sources.

Straight Canyon Fire

The Incident Management Team also sent firefighting resources to a new fire located northeast of Joes Valley Reservoir, about four miles southwest of the Trail Mountain Fire. The Straight Canyon Fire is approximately two acres in size. Firefighters expect to contain it by Wednesday. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

Closures

The Manti-La Sal National Forest has implemented a closure area around the fire. Officers ask everyone to cooperate with closures in place for the duration of the fire. Indian Creek Campground is temporarily closed. There is a temporary flight restriction over the area of the fire and drones are not allowed over the fire.

Facilities currently closed include Indian Creek Campground, Little Bear Campground, Lower Little Bear Campground, Riverside Campsite and Horse Canyon Trailhead.

Several National Forest System roads and trails are also closed to prevent potential injury to the public and to provide for firefighter safety in the area during operations. The closures will remain in effect until Oct. 1, or until rescinded, whichever occurs first.

To view the closures, maps, or to download the information, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5830/. Further closures may occur as necessary. Closures will remain in place until the fire is controlled.

Officials are asking anyone who does not have a legitimate need to stay away from Huntington Canyon in the interest of public and firefighter safety. Highway SR31 through the canyon is open, but drive with caution.