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Residents Question 'Let It Burn' Policy in Sanpete County

Residents Question 'Let It Burn' Policy in Sanpete County

Posted - Sep. 18, 2004 at 5:50 p.m.



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Alex Cabrero reporting Some central Utah residents say a controlled burn is anything but controlled this weekend.

A forest fire flare up near Palisades State Park in Sanpete County has lots of people concerned, but the forest service says so far, so good.

Two months ago, a lightning strike started a fire in the Manti La Sal National Forest, but the forest service decided not to put it out.

Early this morning, with all that wind out there, it flared up pretty badly.

If you saw what Lonny Steinke saw, you'd be scared too. "We were seeing 300 foot flames at 4:00."

Smoke signals used to be a form of communication. Now it only means one thing...danger.

Lonnie Steinke/ Lives Near Forest Fire: "It's hard to describe what your priorities are when you see a fire coming. What's valuable, what's not. It's a little scary to make those decisions."

Just a couple of miles from his Palisades home, a fire in the Manti La Sal National Forest has been burning since July.

But early Saturday morning, it got a lot closer. Now plenty of people in Sanpete County are wondering why the Forest Service won't put it out.

John Hales/ Lives Near Forest Fire: "They could have done more, but they chose not to because it was contained."

Nancy Ross/ Forest Service: "We are closely monitoring it. We have folks up there all the time."

It used to be, if the Forest Service saw a fire, they put it out. But now, they have a new policy where they let Mother Nature take her course. So when you get fires like this one, they'll let it burn unless it gets too close to homes.

Nancy Ross: "We're pretty confident in knowing where the fire is going to go. And we can stop it if it starts to do something we don't want it to do."

Not good enough for Steinke.

Lonnie Steinke: "I've got my truck loaded with valuables and took everything in the house. And we got a strategic plan that if it gets worse, we're leaving."

So far, no homes have been affected or evacuated, and the forest service says there are no plans to do so.

They also want residents to know they have the situation under control, and they're watching the fire closely.

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