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Front Page » July 24, 2014 » Carbon County News » the battle begins
Published 91 days ago

the battle begins


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By JOHN SERFUSTINI
Editor emeritus and C. J. McMANUS
Associate editor

Fire fighters wage land and air war on Sunnyside Fires

Wild land fire fighters have parachuted and hiked into Carbon County's rugged back country to combat three blazes that ignited near East Carbon.

By Wednesday afternoon efforts to control the fires were succeeding, but there was a risk of hot, dry winds and additional lightning that could complicate the situation.

Ground crews had air support from helicopters and tankers in the steep roadless areas. Where the land was accessible, fire engines and a bulldozer came in.

The fires were on BLM land at Cottonwood Ridge and Sunnyside, and private land in Pole Canyon.

According to Utah Department of Forestry, Fire and State Lands Southeastern Utah Area Manager Jason Johnson, a four-man smoke jumper crew began working the fire in Pole Canyon on Monday night. (This blaze has since been named the Bear Canyon Fire.)

Johnson reported that the terrain in Pole Canyon along with mid-day summer heat had made the fire unapproachable until Monday evening.

The four man crew dug containment lines around the fire's right flank and worked the blaze with hand tools until dark. Another eight man smoke jumper crew was sent into the area at about noon on Tuesday, parachuting in about six-tenths of a mile from the fire.

According to Johnson, the jumpers are able to fly in with enough equipment to camp at the fire site for up to 48 hours before needing to be resupplied.

In addition to the 12 jumpers, fire crews had also arranged for a Type One helicopter which would drop 150 gallon loads of water on the fire. However, as the team began working the fire on Tuesday afternoon, the helicopter crew spotted a grass and brush fire burning to the northwest of East Carbon.

The chopper was pulled from the Bear Canyon blaze and began dropping water on the fast moving valley fire.

According to State Management Officer Rudy Sandoval, the grass fire began just after 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday near the site of East Carbon's old golf course. At the time of Sandoval's report, the blaze involved about five acres and was moving west.

The fire gained momentum through the evening as it continued to move toward the Book Cliffs, eventually burning about 200 acres. It was 35 percent contained as of Wednesday afternoon.

According to Johnson, the crew fighting the 10-acre Bear Canyon Fire never called the chopper back to their site. They were able to control the fire by hand.

He estimated that the jumpers would not need any further resources to put down that fire.

Cottonwood Ridge, about 11 miles northeast of Sunnyside, was 50 percent contained Wednesday afternoon. It had charred about 18 acres. According to Moab Interagency Fire Center manager Clark Maughan, eight smoke jumpers and two hot shot crews were working that fire, with one fire engine on hand.

Wild land fire fighters have parachuted and hiked into Carbon County's rugged back country to combat three blazes that ignited near East Carbon.

By Wednesday afternoon efforts to control the fires were succeeding, but there was a risk of hot, dry winds and additional lightning that could complicate the situation.

Ground crews had air support from helicopters and tankers in the steep roadless areas. Where the land was accessible, fire engines and a bulldozer came in.

The fires were on BLM land at Cottonwood Ridge and Sunnyside, and private land in Pole Canyon.

According to Utah Department of Forestry, Fire and State Lands Southeastern Utah Area Manager Jason Johnson, a four-man smoke jumper crew began working the fire in Pole Canyon on Monday night. (This blaze has since been named the Bear Canyon Fire.)

Johnson reported that the terrain in Pole Canyon along with mid-day summer heat had made the fire unapproachable until Monday evening.

The four man crew dug containment lines around the fire's right flank and worked the blaze with hand tools until dark. Another eight man smoke jumper crew was sent into the area at about noon on Tuesday, parachuting in about six-tenths of a mile from the fire.

According to Johnson, the jumpers are able to fly in with enough equipment to camp at the fire site for up to 48 hours before needing to be resupplied.

In addition to the 12 jumpers, fire crews had also arranged for a Type One helicopter which would drop 150 gallon loads of water on the fire. However, as the team began working the fire on Tuesday afternoon, the helicopter crew spotted a grass and brush fire burning to the northwest of East Carbon.

The chopper was pulled from the Bear Canyon blaze and began dropping water on the fast moving valley fire.

According to State Management Officer Rudy Sandoval, the grass fire began just after 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday near the site of East Carbon's old golf course. At the time of Sandoval's report, the blaze involved about five acres and was moving west.

The fire gained momentum through the evening as it continued to move toward the Book Cliffs, eventually burning about 200 acres. It was 35 percent contained as of Wednesday afternoon.

According to Johnson, the crew fighting the 10-acre Bear Canyon Fire never called the chopper back to their site. They were able to control the fire by hand.

He estimated that the jumpers would not need any further resources to put down that fire.

Cottonwood Ridge, about 11 miles northeast of Sunnyside, was 50 percent contained Wednesday afternoon. It had charred about 18 acres. According to Moab Interagency Fire Center manager Clark Maughan, eight smoke jumpers and two hot shot crews were working that fire, with one fire engine on hand.

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