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Crews hemming in southwestern Utah wildfires

Published August 16, 2012 9:56 am

'Red Flag' warning • Northern Wasatch Front alert for wildfire danger.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ground crews, aided by a fleet of helicopters and air tankers bombarding hot spots with water and fire retardant mud, made progress Thursday on southwestern Utah's stubborn Reserve Wildfire.

About 130 firefighters had stopped the forward progression of the fire burning east of Washington County's Cottonwood Springs Road, containing 75 percent of the perimeter at 3,069 acres Thursday. Fire Information Officer Nick Howell said several structures in the remote, rugged fire site north of St. George and near the Mesa Rim Trail were no longer threatened.

"The fire is currently in check," Howell said, noting that the fire spread by only 50 acres late Wednesday due to "short fire runs" that were quickly countered by ground and air attacks.

No evacuations were in effect and no injuries or property damage had been reported, but the Mesa Rim and Black Gulch trails remained closed to the public on Thursday.

Howell said firefighting efforts included "aggressive tactics," but there was no estimated date for when the lightning-caused Reserve fire would be fully contained.

The 5,100-acre Shivwits Wildfire, also sparked by lightning, was 80 percent contained Thursday. Fire Information Officer Mike Melton said crews continued to make good progress, though no full containment estimate was given as firefighters focused on dousing hot spots and flare-ups.

However, another southwestern Utah blaze, the 2,112-acre Little Pine Wildfire five miles southwest of Enterprise, had been declared 100 percent contained. Lightning also was blamed for igniting that fire.

Fire Information Office Aly Farrow said closures of the Honeycomb Rocks Campground and Enterprise Reservoir Road had been lifted.

Still, firefighters continued to watch for new blazes popping up in Utah's tinder-dry forests and high deserts as hot, dry and windy weather was forecast going into the weekend. On Thursday, the National Weather Service issued a "Red Flag" wildfire danger warning for the northern Wasatch Front, stretching from Logan in the north to Nephi in the south.

remims@sltrib.com