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Black Rock Fire May Be Beneficial

Black Rock Fire May Be Beneficial

Posted - Jul. 26, 2003 at 5:20 p.m.



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Karen Scullin reportingA fire in Black Rock Canyon continues to burn tonight, but in the end it could be good for the environment.

The blaze was most likely started by lightning Friday, and so far has burned 650 acres.

A lot of people in the Vernon area can see the smoke billowing from the mountaintop, but it's not threatening any structures. In fact, officials say in the long run something positive could come out of the Black Rock blaze.

The fire in the Tintic Mountains continues to burn through a popular recreation site.

It kicked up yesterday, fueled by very dry grass, sage, pine and juniper. Strong winds forced firefighters to back off.

Steve Jackson/Incident Commander: As the column got so big, it kind of fell down into the canyon bottom. And what it does is it spots, so you have fire all over the place. We pulled everybody back."

With milder winds and cooler temperatures, Saturday crews are back in action, but firefighters are still facing some big challenges.

Steve Jackson/Incident Commander: "It's a steep narrow canyon, rocky road, limited access. So the concerns for driving into the area are almost as much of a concern as the fire itself."

As helicopters dump water and air tankers release fire retardant, in the end the blaze may actually help wildlife that graze in the area.

Ali Knutson: "The advantage is that it helpls clear out some of this heavy growth in the area. It hasn't burned in a while. So with that opening up, it does help to create new wildlife habitat."

Although firefighters won't predict the end of the battle, the Bureau of Land Management is concerned about the area being over-used before it has a chance to start growing again. An emergency stabilization plan will be enacted, trying to encourage at least some people to choose an alternate recreation area.

Ali Knutson: "Our goal is not to close areas. Our goal is to protect the areas, so that we can still continue to use them in the future."

About 180 firefighters continue to work on the fire. The area, of course, is closed to the public for now.

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