Arsonists deliberately ignited a string of 14 fires along Skyline Drive in the Manti-La Sal National Forest over the Labor Day weekend.
And forest service officials are asking for witnesses to come forward and report any information regarding the suspicious fires at their tip line 775-355-5337.
No tips have come in yet, said Samantha Stoffregen, forest service spokesperson. “We really need witnesses to come forward,” she said.
She reported that investigators have found 14 different spots where the arsonists started fires along Skyline Drive, between South Tent Mountain and Potter’s Canyon between 1 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sept. 6.
“The fires were started on purpose,” Stoffregen said. “They were not caused by accidental campfires or chain drags.”
The arsonists allegedly drove along Skyline drive, stopped, walked into the wood line and started fires there, she said.
She can’t give out specific details how the fires were started, because the investigation is ongoing.
People reported smelling smoke at 3 a.m., she said, and archery hunters called in with reports of seeing the fires about 6 a.m.
All the fires have bee
n contained, she said, but there are concerns that hot spots might be ignited by high winds.
For the time being, the forest is open to the public and there are no road closures.
Cooler temperatures might also tempt hunters and campers to start campground fires, but Stoffregren cautioned that fire restrictions are still in place in the Manti-La Sal Forest.
Campfires are only permitted in developed recreation areas like campgrounds and picnic areas, in metal or concrete structures built by the forest service, she said. Stoves with an on/off switch that use liquid fuel are also allowed.
The fires were contained by crews from the forest service, with assistance from State resources, Manti City, Spring City, Mt. Pleasant and Sanpete County.
Four of the fires had minimal potential, meaning they did not spread past the initial starting point. Five of the fires had slightly more potential, but were contained after burning approximately one tenth of an acre. Two of the fires had moderate potential due to spotting and rollout, but were contained after burning approximately one quarter to half an acre.