‘Bloomington Fire’ burning near Bear Claw Poppy reignites before being contained

"Bloomington Fire" rages through Arizona Strip near the Utah/Arizona border Sunday, Washington County, Utah, May 17, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Jeff Germain, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A wildfire that started near the Bear Claw Poppy Reserve has burned more than 80 acres but is largely contained Monday afternoon as fire managers monitor the scene to prevent a second restart in an area where a number of recent wildland fires have been reported.

Firefighters return to area where “Bloomington Fire” reignited and ended up burning through 85 acres near the Arizona Strip, Washington County, Utah, May 17, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Jeff Germain, St. George News

Based out of Cedar City, Color Country Dispatch coordinates wildland fire suppression in southwestern Utah and northern Arizona. New on the agency’s radar Sunday evening was a fire that sparked near the Bear Claw Poppy Reserve out on the Arizona Strip. Dubbed the “Bloomington Fire,” the fire was visible from St. George, Washington County Fire Warden Adam Heyder told St. George News.

Firefighters responded to the wildland fire shortly after 6:30 p.m., a blaze that ignited just northeast of the Bloomington Country Club.

Fire crews fought the blaze, which was spreading quickly, fueled by stretches of grasslands and sagebrush vegetation. They continued suppression efforts throughout the night, efforts that increased substantially when the blaze reignited at 3 a.m. Monday, kicked up by high winds and made worse by smoldering “cow piles” that caught fire that then spread rapidly, Heyder said.

A customized Type 7 side-by-side fire attack vehicle was also deployed by the Santa Clara Ivins Fire Department, which is an all-terrain vehicle capable of navigating through rugged terrain and hard-to-reach areas. It is equipped with a water tank, drip torches, pumps and other fire-fighting apparatus to assist fire crews.

Type 7 side-by-side fire attack vehicle was deployed during “Bloomington Fire” that burned through 85 acres near the Arizona Strip, Washington County, Utah, May 17, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Jeff Germain, St. George News

The blaze burned through more than 85 acres and is 100% contained at this time, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s out, Heyder said, as crews remain on scene to “mop up” the area, or check for any burning embers or hot spots that continue to smolder to prevent it from reigniting at a later time.

The Bureau of Land Management has crews still out there and will remain in the area well into Tuesday, he said.

The vast area that makes up the Arizona Strip is devoid of any structures or dwellings, but firefighting efforts are still an important element in maintaining the natural ecosystem and balance within the area, he said, not only for wildlife, but for the native plants and vegetation dotting the land.

Heyder went on to say that particular area of Mohave County is not a “fire adaptive ecosystem,” so allowing fires to burn would have little benefit and would actually cause an enormous amount of damage in the indigenous plants and vegetation growing throughout the area, as well as to the rangelands where cattle graze.

“Bloomington Fire” rages through Arizona Strip near the Utah/Arizona border Sunday, Washington County, Utah, May 17, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Jeff Germain, St. George News

In essence, fire will burn through and destroy protected vegetation and native plants, but leave the sagebrush and non-native plants to proliferate and spread.

“There are some areas that need fire to clean it up and create new growth,” Heyder said, “But this area of Mohave County isn’t one of them.”

What started the human-caused fire has yet to be determined and it is still under investigation at this time.

No humans were reported injured, no structures were threatened, and no emergency evacuations were needed.

The Arizona Strip

The Arizona Strip is a vast, arid region north of the Grand Canyon that covers nearly three million acres in northwestern Arizona with 4,000 miles of unpaved roads. The region is isolated from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon, making it among the most remote and rugged public land in the United States.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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