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Crews mopping up two Utah wildfires, watch for new blazes

Published August 17, 2012 2:43 pm

'Red Flag' flying • Hot, dry, windy forecast brings elevated 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This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Crews were closing containment lines around two stubborn southwestern Utah blazes on Friday, even as they watched the smoky horizons for new wildfires after a weekend "Red Flag" warning was issued.

The elevated wildfire danger advisory for the northern Wasatch Front, from Logan running south to Nephi, technically was to expire late Friday night. But the hot, dry and windy conditions that triggered the warning were expected to continue into early next week.

The state's biggest active blaze, the 5,100-acre Shivwits Wildfire in Washington County, was 95 percent contained Friday afternoon. Fire information officer Mike Melton said the flames burning in cheat grass, brush, pinyon and juniper could be fully contained by sometime Saturday.

"This fire is situated in steep, rocky terrain and is proving to be resistant to suppression," he said. "Mop up efforts will continue for the next several days."

The Shivwits fire, located roughly six miles northwest of Ivins, was sparked by lightning last Sunday. About 80 firefighters were on the lines.

Lightning also was blamed for igniting the Reserve Wildfire on Monday. By Friday afternoon, it had burned 3,067 acres north of St. George and the Mesa Rim Trail. Fire Information Officer Nick Howell said that blaze was 80 percent contained; the earlier threat to several structures in the remote area had passed.

While no estimated full containment date was set, Howell did note that some of the 125 firefighters assigned to the blaze would begin being released — if fire activity continues its recent trend of diminishing and mop up actions don't run into difficulty.

The Mesa Rim and Black Gulch trails remained closed to the public on Friday.

remims@sltrib.com