Hanksville Wildfire 'Burning Cool'

Hanksville Wildfire 'Burning Cool'

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah's first large wildfire of the season was right where firefighters wanted it on Monday, and forest managers say the blaze will ultimately make the Henry Mountains forest more healthy.

The fire, which was started by a lightning strike near the Lonesome Beaver campground more than a week ago, had burned 2,558 acres by Monday morning, said Susan Marzec, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management.

It burned pinyon and juniper trees at around 9,000 feet in elevation, in an area 30 miles south of Hanksville.

"It's been burning cool," Marzec said. That means the flames were consuming dead wood and debris -- but leaving the healthy trees and their seeds alive.

"This part of the mountain had a lot of fuel on it. It hasn't burned in years and years," she said.

With the dead wood burned away, the forest will grow healthier in the future, she said.

The BLM had 162 firefighters with five engines and a helicopter working on the fire. They spent the weekend trying to surround the blaze with fire lines. Marzec said the weather favored their efforts.

"It's actually looking pretty good," she said. No one had been injured and no homes were in danger.

There is a free-ranging bison herd in that part of the Henry Mountains, but Marzec said the animals know how to get themselves out of the way when wildfire strikes.

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

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