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Lightning ignites fires in Bookcliffs

By Sun Advocate

The United States Bureau of Land Management announced Tuesday that a type two incident command team has been brought into the area to battle two wildfires in the Bookcliffs approximately 40 miles north of Moab.
The 600-acre Rattle blaze, located 20 miles northeast of Green River, and the 1,300-acre Diamond fire, located 20 miles northeast of Thompson, were started by lightning on or around June 20, indicated the Moab BLM field office.
The wildfires have been designated as the Rattle complex.
The wildfires are burning in separate remote areas of the Bookcliffs in rugged terrain consisting of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, oak brush and mountain mahogany fuels, explained BLM field manager Maggie Wyatt.
The fires are separated by approximately 12 miles.
Access is extremely difficult and getting water and crews into the areas to battle the blazes will be a primary concern.
The type two team, under the direction of Bill Casey, will establish a base camp at Thompson Springs, continued the BLM.
An array of helicopter resources along with hand crews were ordered and started to arrive in the wildfire area June 24.
Initial attack crews have been on scene since the outset and have had limited success in establishing control lines on the fires, pointed out the BLM.
Due to the extreme nature of the fire potential and the weather, the type two team was brought in to provide additional capabilities. There are currently 147 personnel assigned to fighting the fire.
Fortunately, no structures are under threat at the current time, according to the Moab BLM official. But the extreme fire danger has managers concerned for potential watershed damage and impacts to wildlife and timber resources.
The blazes are located in wilderness study areas and the Diamond fire is burning on the edge of a large state of Utah roadless area. The Uintah-Ouray Indian reservation is located from three to seven miles north of the two fires.
Wyatt reminded Castle Valley residents of the fire restriction order placed on public lands in Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan counties on June 25.
Open flames are prohibited until further notice.
The restriction specifically prohibits:
•Smoking except inside a motor vehicle, a building or cleared area.
•The use of fireworks, tracer ammunition and incendiary devices on all public lands falling under the jurisdiction of the federal agency.
In addition, the restriction order requires an approved spark arrester on all small internal combustion engines utilized within the designated areas in southeastern Utah.
Examples of the combustion engines covered by the fire restriction rule includes chain saws, generators and off-highway vehicles.
Fire restrictions remain in effect on all public lands in the state of Utah.
A number of wildfires are burning throughout the West and the resources to fight the blazes are limited.
Alleviating the extreme dangers associated with the severe drought situation will require the cooperation and support of all citizens in the four-county region, emphasized the Moab BLM field office.
When travelling, Castle Valley residents should refrain from parking motor vehicles on grass or brush and extinguish all cigarettes in ashtrays, concluded the Moab field office.

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