The fast burning blaze which started Tuesday around 6 pm, three miles southeast of Minersville in Beaver County, has since jumped county lines extending today over to Iron County.
“The fire didn’t slow down over night like we had hoped it would,” said fire information officer Nick Howell. “Usually at night the humidity rises and the temperatures drop which slows the fire down. Last night the humidity didn’t rise and the temperatures didn’t drop.”
Multiple agencies are currently on the scene fighting the fire. A Color Country Interagency Type three management team have been assessing the situation today and are preparing to take over tomorrow from a Type four team that has been on scene for the last 24 hours. The lower the number of the team, the worse the fire.
With one cabin still threatened, firefighters are working to protect the area however, a large portion of the fire has moved to a high rocky and steep terrain, making it more difficult for crews to fight, Howell said.
While the rocky terrain is not conducive to firefighters, the fire is being somewhat slowed down by the fire-resistant greenery and grass planted by agencies a few years ago, after the Maple Spring Fire had scarred the land.
“It was actually really cool,” Howell said. “The fire hit one of these fire scars today where we had reseeded after a fire in 2002 or 2003 and it slammed up against it and stopped dead in its tracks. The fire circled around the reseeded area.”
With the July 4th weekend coming up officials are urging the public to please be cautious and aware and to observe all ordinances, restrictions and laws regarding fires and fireworks. The Black Mountain Fire is consuming a large portion of the fire suppression focus in Southern Utah and officials are concerned there may not be enough resources available if there are many human-caused fires.
“Because of the high commitment of many interagency resources to the Black Mountain Fire, its imperative that we keep a high level of awareness to acts that may contribute to property damage, and risk to human life during this extreme fire danger situation,” said Mike Melton, Fire Management Officer for the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
There are multiple prevention measures we can take to mitigate human caused fires this year, especially during times that fireworks are readily available, Melton added.
Iron County is still under strict fire restrictions and the public lands are still listed at a level one stage. While there has been discussion about raising it to level two, no decisions have been made, Howell said.
Under level one restrictions, fires are still allowed in designated campsites and developed fire pits on public lands. Under level two, the restrictions will be even greater including no open fires. Currently, fires caused by humans have been at a minimum which will ultimately influence whether the various agencies raise the restrictions on public lands, Howell said.
“The public has been awesome so far this season and if we can keep the human caused fires down then we may not have to raise the restrictions but if we start having a lot of human caused fires then we’re going to have to,” he said.
Residents can find out what restrictions there are in the incorporated areas of the county and to find out where they can light off fireworks by going to the various city’s websites.
Smoke may impact Cedar City tonight as large accumulations of vegetation continue to be consumed. The fire has caused a few road closures. Chalk Hollow, Maple Springs, Black Mountain, and the Camel Hollow Roads are all closed at this time. No evacuations have occurred and officials don’t believe any will be necessary.
Fire crews expect to be fighting the Black Mountain Fire for at least another two days. Fire Managers would like to remind the public to stay out of the fire's surrounding area due to high rates of spread.
Jurisdiction: Bureau of Land Management (Color Country District) and Utah State Lands (Forestry, Fire and State Lands).
Fire Behavior: Torching, running, spotting, and significant fire growth is being observed.
Fuels: Pinyon and Juniper, Cheatgrass and Brush.
Fire Crews/Resources: 5 Fire Engines, 2 Water Tenders, 4 Hand Crews, 2 Type I Helicopters, 1 Type III Helicopter, 1 Air Attack Platform, 3 Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATS), 2 Dozers, and Various Overhead. Approximately 200 personnel are currently assigned to the fire.
Injuries: No injuries have been reported.
For more information on fires in Utah visit www.utahfireinfo.gov.