A BAe-146 Tanker drops fire retardant to slow the spread of the Crooked Creek Fire burning north of Fairview near Milburn.

Milburn residents express faith in

firefighters as blaze consumes forest

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

7/26/2018

            MILBURN— Despite pre-evacuation orders on a number of nearby structures, Luann Greenwell of Milburn sat on her front porch watching the mountains burn. She didn’t seem worried because firefighting crews have succeeded in pushing back the fire.

            According to information released by the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office at the onset of the Crooked Creek Fire, a pre-evacuation order on Friday was issued for more than 20 structures, including those in Dry Creek and Tucker Flats.

            Although not much stands between the fire and her home besides plenty of fuel and one paved road, Greenwell was smiling and relaxed.

            “The fire crews are on the ball,” Greenwell said. “They’ve really been hustling and I want to give credit where credit is due. I am not worried at all.”

            The fire ignited on Wednesday, July 18 from lightning in the Crooked Creek mountains in the Manti-La Sal National Forest, east of Milburn and north of Fairview.

            From the beginning, fire crews have worked to fully suppress the fire. As of Saturday, the fire had grown to more than 150 acres, according to Leann Fox, of Utahfireinfobox.com, the state website that releases up to date information on wildfires in Utah.

            Fox said Friday’s cloud cover and cool weather with temperatures in the low 80s gave firefighters an advantage in fighting the fire.

However, she also said the fire is burning in mixed conifer with down and dead timber, and large standing timber, which generates extreme heat and is resistant to cooler, more humid weather.

Aircraft dropping water and retardant were important to holding the fire and helping firefighters as they worked on the ground, she said. The fire was most active on the northeast flank of the mountains.

According to Rosann Fillmore, public affairs specialist with the Forest Service, as of Monday, the fire was burning on 137 acres and 182 personnel were fighting against its spread—with three engines, three HotShot Crews, three initial attack crews, three helicopters, one airplane dropping retardant and a water tender.

“Although fire line has been built around the perimeter, heavy fuel, snags and rolling logs are keeping the fire hot and pose a risk for spread,” Fillmore said.  “Natural fire behavior helped to secure the fire on the southeast edge where there are fingers of fire and steep terrain. Crews have been securing the line by taking down snags and turning over burning logs.”

Dead and downed timber continues to burn in numerous individual spots, so firefighters were working to get spots contained, Fillmore said. Rain has not helped fire burning in heavy logs. Firefighters will continue work to improve and secure lines.

The Manti-La Sal National Forest has issued an order closing the fire area: Forest Roads 138, 1178, 1048, 1049; Forest Trail 0053 from the Forest Boundary to the junction with Forest Road 0138; Forest Trail 048 from the Forest Boundary to the junction with Forest Road 1178.

The closure is in place to prevent potential injury to the public and firefighter safety during fire operations. You can read the order at: https://go.usa.gov/xUn98.

“Everyone attending holiday celebrations and families recreating in the area of Fairview, Milburn and Fairview Canyon need to be aware of increased fire traffic,” Fox said. “Travel cautiously throughout the area.”

Although three structures further up the mountain have been given evacuation orders, Greenwell said she expects everything to turn out okay for her, and she “doubts she’s going anywhere with as hard as the fire crews are working.”

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