Apex Fire Grows to 28,000 Acres

Apex Fire Grows to 28,000 Acres

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- The Apex Fire, started by two teenagers playing with matches, has grown to 28,500 acres, making it not only the largest blaze in the state so far this season but the biggest in southwestern Utah's Beaver Mountains in at least 25 years, fire officials said.

More than 500 firefighters were on the blaze, which grew more than 6,000 acres on Tuesday, primarily advancing westward in the mountains west of the Shivwitz Reservation, Bureau of Land Management spokesmen said.

About 35 percent of the fire, mainly on the eastern and northern sides, had been contained by late Tuesday, said Evan Boshell, planning chief for BLM's fire management team.

There were no communities in danger.

On Sunday night, a voluntary evacuation of the Shivwits Reservation was recommended, but it was withdrawn on Monday. The fire had passed within two miles of about 14 homes at Shivwits, but bulldozers created a fire break around them on Monday.

One firefighter was treated at a hospital for dehydration. She had consumed only one gallon of water instead of the recommended three to four gallons, said Ron Wilson, a BLM fire safety officer.

"That's one of our big concerns," Wilson said. "They just don't drink enough water."

Old U.S. Highway 91 remained closed from Shivwits to the Arizona line, but some people trying to get a close look at the fire tried to use it anyway and were stopped by police.

If more people try to force their way in, the Gunlock road off Highway 91 also will be closed, Wilson said, and those who pass road-closure signs will receive tickets.

Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith said the fire was started Saturday by two 16-year olds playing with matches.

When the matches dropped on the grass near the Apex Mine, the two boys drove away on their motorcycles and went to the father of one and told him what had happened, Smith said. The father turned them in to police.

The case has been turned over to the county attorney's office.

Meanwhile, the Wooden Shoe fire in the Dark Canyon Wilderness Area of the Abajo Mountains 25 miles west of Blanding in southeastern Utah grew about 175 acres on Tuesday to 925 acres, said Barbara Bonefeld, the incident commander.

She said fire crews are trying to confine the blaze to one canyon.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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