LEEDS, Utah – The U.S. Forest Service confirmed lightning sparked a 300-acre wildfire burning north of St. George on Pine Mountain.
Rangers recorded the fire Tuesday morning, located approximately three miles southeast of the Oak Grove Campground near Leeds. Originally estimated at 80 acres, fire information officer Marcia Gilles said the flames spread quickly through the steep mountain valleys.
“The biggest factor our firefighters are facing right now is the steepness of the terrain,” Gilles said. “And with that is the weather conditions, and watching those conditions as the fire progresses.”
Rangers evacuated the Oak Grove Campground as a precaution and forest service roads are closed in the area. Local residents saw the smoke plumb early on. Thick black smoke could be seen coming off the mountainside from almost everywhere in St. George.
A type 3 incident management team has taken control of firefighting operations. Crews from the Forest Service, Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, and Bureau of Land Management are all assisting.
“We have air tankers in the air, so we just ask the public to be cautious, and aware,” Gilles said. “If they’re flying drones in the area that could shut down our operations.”
The fire was zero percent containment as of Tuesday night. Incident commanders have ordered two hotshot crews to try and make it around the perimeter. Crews will monitor activity overnight, and develop a firefighting plan Wednesday morning.
Fire conditions for the area are listed as moderate.