Lower temperatures and higher humidity helped firefighters in Utah make progress on wildfires Friday, including one that has been burning for 3½ weeks and has scorched 27 square miles.
The time for progress is expiring. The National Weather Service says temperatures in Salt Lake City will return to the mid-90s on Monday and remain there through Independence Day.
In St. George and the surrounding valleys, currently the epicenter of Utah’s wildfire season, the thermometer will go back to 103 Monday and remain near there Tuesday and Wednesday.
But fire managers were able to celebrate as they assessed their blazes Saturday morning. State Road 24 between Sigurd and Koosharem was open again Saturday morning. A stretch was closed Friday as the Willow Patch Fire approached it. The fire is listed as 1,000 acres with zero containment.
Yet, the excitement was short lived, as the blaze closed the highway again Saturday, but it reopened by 9:30 p.m. In addition to stopping highway traffic, the fire also burned several power line structures, cutting of electricity in Sevier County for Burrville, Koosharem and the Fishlake Basin.
The Trail Mountain Fire, which began June 6 as a prescribed burn, was 85 percent contained. That fire has burned 17,830 acres near Huntington.
The second-biggest inferno in the state is the West Valley Fire near the town of Pine Valley in southwest Utah. It is 9,462 acres with no containment, but a tweet from the state’s wildfire information system said firefighters hoped to achieve some containment Saturday. The state’s fire managers have said an abandoned campfire ignited the blaze.
Two counties north of Pine Valley, the Black Mountain Fire has burned about 6,000 acres near Minersville. It was listed as 60 percent contained on Saturday, and fire crews are expected to contain more of the blaze Sunday.
Firefighters were nearing containment on the Rough Canyon Fire in Box Elder County.
The Dry Canyon Fire near Parowan, which had shrunk to 23 acres, was declared fully contained Saturday afternoon.