MOAB — Crews on Saturday worked to contain several fires started by dry lightning strikes in southeast Utah.
The fires were being driven further southeast by the wind and terrain, according to Sandy Nelson with the Moab Interagency Fire Center, and burned in areas near Blanding, Moab and East Carbon.
"We definitely have our hands full down here," Nelson said.
• The fire in Dark Canyon near Blanding was the smallest of the three, but authorities were concerned about the safety of hikers and backpackers in the popular area, according to Nelson. By Saturday morning, it had consumed 150 acres and was visible from Highway 191, south of Moab.
Law enforcement officials were working Friday to clear hikers and backpackers out of the area in case the fire spread further, Nelson said.
• As of Saturday evening, the Lackey Fan Fire near Moab was large enough to require response from a Type II team that will be fully in place by Sunday morning, Nelson said. This team brings a "higher level of coordination and management," she said. Nine crews of 20 people were either fighting the fire or on their way to assist Saturday night.
Officials were concerned because of the fire's proximity to the Manti-La Salle National Forest, popular recreation areas and houses. Although the fire was not an immediate threat to those, Nelson said they weren't taking any chances.
"We wanna get ahead of that — really far ahead of that."
Don Carpenter, spokesman for the Incident Management Team in the Great Basin area, was with one of the Type II response crews. He said the fire saw more expansion Saturday, consuming 915 acres. Four additional crews were expected to arrive between Saturday night and Sunday morning, he said.
It is still uncertain as to when the fires will be extinguished, Carpenter said, because it depends on their resources and the weather conditions. Hot and windy weather will aggravate the fire, while rainstorms will assist in the containment effort.
"We have really no idea on that. All I know is we're doing our best," Carpenter said.
No residences were threatened and there were no road closures as a result of the fire, Nelson said.
• The Rock Creek Fire burned in a remote area in the Book Cliffs, 15 miles east of East Carbon, near Price. According to Nelson, it was most likely visible from Highway 70 Saturday.
"If anybody's seeing a fire up there, that's the one," Nelson said.
Two Hotshot crews, highly-skilled firefighters who are specially trained to work interdependent and respond to fires in more hazardous terrain, were battling the 235-acre fire. They were assisted by three helicopters that were dropping flame retardant and water, according to the fire officials on the website www.utahfireinfo.gov Saturday evening.
The fire was burning in steep and rocky areas and was consuming timber at 8,000 feet, the report said, and some Tavaputs Plateau structures were at risk of being caught up in the blaze Saturday.
• Crews were also fighting more minor fires Saturday in the Butts Point, North Long Point and Horse Mountain locations in the Abajo Mountains near Montecello, the Utah Fire Info report indicated.
Firefighting crews came from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, the state of Utah and San Juan and Carbon counties.