Wildfire Prompts Voluntary Evacuation

Wildfire Prompts Voluntary Evacuation

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A voluntary evacuation of the Shivwits Reservation was recommended and Old Highway 91 from Gunlock to Mesquite, Nev., was shut down as the Apex brush fire grew to 6,600 acres late Sunday.

The Washington County sheriff's office said evacuation was recommended, but had not been ordered as of early Monday. About 100 people were affected.

The fire about 10 miles west of St. George and five miles from the reservations in southwestern Utah was burning primarily in pinon-juniper and light shrubs on federal, state and private land.

Abundant dry grass, high temperatures, erratic winds and steep terrain hampered firefighters on Sunday, said David Boyd, fire information officer with the Bureau of Land Management in St. George.

The erratic winds pushed the fire in all directions, although it primarily was spreading to the north and south, Boyd said. Temperatures in southern Utah reached the 100s.

More than 120 firefighters, aided by two heavy air tankers, three single-engine air tankers and five engines, were on the fire, which started Saturday and was of undetermined cause.

The fire also was near desert tortoise and bighorn sheep habitat, Boyd said.

Elsewhere, the Wooden Shoe fire, in the Abajo Mountains of southeastern Utah, was burning about 30 miles from Blanding. The fire was about 550 acres as of Sunday night and was being fought by 20 local firefighters and eight smoke jumpers, said Moab Interagency Fire Center Manager Dirk Johnson.

The 98-acre Finn Canyon fire, seven miles south of Scofield in Carbon County, had increased just eight acres since Saturday night. Two helicopters were taking water from Scofield Lake to pour on the fire.

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

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