Updated at 6:25 p.m., July 12.
ARIZONA STRIP – Multiple fires were sparked on the Arizona Strip by lightning strikes Wednesday afternoon. The two largest fires have burned an estimated 22,500 acres so far.
Rachel Tueller, the fire information officer for the Arizona Strip District, said that as of Thursday morning, fire management officers reported a total of 13 fires located on the Arizona Strip on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management.
Of the 13 fires, the Hobble Complex Fire (a combination of three fires) has burned as estimated 18,000 acres, and the Plateau Fire are has burned 4,500 acres. Tueller said smoke may be visible from the Washington County area.
The Hobble Complex Fire is approximately 35 miles south of St. George, and the Plateau Fire is approximately 65 miles south of the city.
Nine of the 13 fires are located on the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument. The fires vary in size and are awaiting more accurate mapping. The last fire is located on land designated as the Arizona Strip Field Office.
A Color Country Type III (T3) Teams are attending to both the Hobble Complex and Plateau Fires, Tueller said. Fire engines and aviation assets have also been ordered for these fires.
Some rain is expected to accompany thunderstorms predicted in weekend forecasts, to which Tueller said the fire crews were “keeping their fingers crossed.”
With several fires currently burning in Southern Utah, statewide, and in neighboring states, Tueller added that resources being allocated to certain fires has been prioritized according to what is considered the “known value at rick.” Places of value include urban areas, places with cultural significance, wildlife habitat, along with other determining factors.
Faced with the potential for limited resources, Tueller said, “The teams are doing the best with what they have.”
Several outbuildings related to ranching are threatened by the fires, but so far there has been no report of loss.
No road closures are currently in effect, though, roads surrounding each fire are pending closure for public safety this afternoon.
Multiple agencies are currently involved in combating the fires on the Arizona Strip. “Its definitely a team effort,” Tueller said.