As Kaibab forest fire burns, officials warn of health issues from smoke

In this file photo shown for illustration purposes, smoke rises from a fire in central Utah, June 11, 2018 | Photo courtesy of InciWeb, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Cat Fire burning on the north rim of the Kaibab National Forest has burned through 2,387 acres as of Sunday. Officials are warning people of health issues that can result from smoke produced by the fire in surrounding areas, including Southern Utah.

The Cat Fire is about 25 miles southeast of Jacob Lake in the Saddle Mountain Wilderness on the North Kaibab Ranger District. Due to cooler temperatures and higher moisture, recent fire activity has been minimal, with the fire growing about 200 acres to the south and east. Crews are continuing to monitor the fire and cleaning up fuel breaks along Forest Roads 219 and 610.

Read more: ‘Distractions from people ignoring fire closures is counterproductive’; Grand Canyon, Kaibab fires continue to grow

View of the Cat Fire from Forest Road 611 in Arizona, date not specified | Photo courtesy of InciWeb, St. George News

A new team of firefighters took over suppression efforts of the fire Sunday morning, according to a press release from the U.S. Forest Service. Crews are developing strategies to the address the challenges of maintaining firefighter safety. Firemen are currently having to fight the fire within the rugged terrain of Saddle Mountain Wilderness.

The fire is currently fueled by mixed conifer, ponderosa pine and pinyon-juniper.

The following trails and roads remain closed: Forest Roads (FR) 213 and 220 on the north, FR 610 on the east and south and House Rock Valley Road 8910 on the east; Arizona Trail from FR 213 to FR 610, North Canyon Trail, South Canyon Trail, as well as the Point Imperial and Nankoweap Trails, which are both located on Kaibab National Forest and Grand Canyon National Park land. The closures will remain in effect until it is considered safe to enter the area.

Smoke precautions

Officials are warning residents and others in surrounding areas of the smoke, which is visible on both the North and South Rims of the park. There is also a regional haze present in surrounding communities from multiple wildfires in the West.

Read more: Southern Utah weekend weather forecast: Wildfires continue to spread haze; thunderstorms possible

According to the Coconino County Public Health Services District website, individuals sensitive to smoke should follow these safety precautions:

  • Avoid breathing in smoke if you can help it.
  • Use visibility guides; The worse the visibility is, the worse the smoke is.
  • Use common sense. If it’s smoky outside, limit outdoor activities.
  • If you feel ill as a result of wildfire smoke, regardless of the Air Quality Index level, take necessary precautions like staying indoors, using a HEPA filter and seeking medical attention if necessary.
  • Pay attention to local air quality reports.
  • If you are advised to stay indoors, keep windows and doors closed.

Additional information about wildland fires can be found at the Grand Canyon National Park website or on the Kaibab National Forest website. You can also call 928-638-7819 for recorded fire information.

Email: mheckenliable@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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