|Extremely dry conditions have forced new fire restrictions for the Manti-La Sal.|
The rumble of thunder over the weekend had many Emery County residents casting a wary glance toward the mountains. While they prayed for rain, they feared the lightning, especially should it touch down in the brittle forests of the Manti-La Sal.
The conditions in the forests are so dry that the Forest Service has announced new, statewide fire restrictions. The new restrictions prohibit the use of open camp fires on all federal and state lands. The restrictions also include any stove fire. Restrictions are already in place which restrict fireworks and smoking except in enclosed vehicles and structures or in developed campgrounds or areas cleared of debris and at least three feet in diameter. Violating the restrictions will result with a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization and or imprisonment for not more than six months.
On the Manti-La Sal National Forest the Ferron, Price and Sanpete Districts fall into the restrictions. The area includes all of the Wasatch Plateau and San Pitch Mountains. They also apply to the Wasatch Cache, Uinta, Ashley and Fishlake National Forests. The restrictions do not prohibit the use of a stove solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels, according to the forest service.
The Dixie National Forest and the Moab and Monticello Ranger Districts of the Manti-La Sal National Forest are also prohibiting the operation of any type of machine that is activated by an internal combustion engine, such as chainsaws or generators, operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails, and blasting, welding or other activities which generate flame of flammable materials. These restrictions are in place between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m.
The forest service warned that fire conditions are extreme and restrictions could change at any time.
While forest service officials hope the fire restrictions will help take the human element out of potential forest fires, the nature element still has fire crews on the run. Forest service personnel responded to the scene of several lightning strikes over the weekend in the Emery County area.
John Healy, acting forest ranger for the Ferron District, reported that crews responded to a fire in Wiley's Fork in the lower Muddy Creek area to battle a three-acre blaze. Crews also responded to Rilda Canyon where lightning had started a blaze which was quickly contained. Healy also said there were reports of smoke on the Ferron dugway, but he said crews have been unable to detect a fire. On Monday Troy Davis, acting fire management officer for the area, reported that a crew was investigating reports of a fire on north Horn Mountain.