The Carbon County Commissioners welcomed personnel that have been working hard to battle both the Bennion and Bear fires that have been burning.
County Emergency Manager Justin Needles began the update, stating first and foremost that he was thankful for the support for the firefighters. He introduced those in attendance, such as Chris Conrad, Price Field Office Field Manager, and members of the California Team 10 Crew, including team Liaison Tim Fike.
Green River District Manager of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Lance Porter, spoke next and began by explaining that he appreciates the coordination and working with the commission staff to pull everything together.
“Really, it takes a group of all of us to make things happen,” he stated.
It was determined that the start of the Bear Fire was a lightning strike and Porter stated that they are seeing conditions that would normally be witnessed in late July or August. It is a hot summer with very little moisture and the field moisture samples are extremely dry.
Porter stated that the California Team 10 has done a phenomenal job. “We’re grateful to them and all the work they’ve put in,” he stated.
Fike then spoke, stating that it was quite a surprise when they received the call so early in the season to come to Utah for a fire assignment. The California team is managing both fires and FIke stated that when they arrived, there was a good plan in place and there were obviously a lot of high-value concerns.
For the Bennion Fire, Fike reported that the crews have been making extremely good progress on the western side of the fire. There is a fire camp in that area, which is supporting all of the troops there. There are engines, dozers, hot shot crews, water tenders and the like.
Fike informed the commission that the Deputy Incident Commander is embedded with that group to manage the fire as part of the overall strategy between the two incidents. According to Fike, many areas of the fire are held and conditions are looking good.
He explained that the piece of fire by Aspen Cove should be contained by the end of the shift this evening and, as of around 6 p.m., evacuation will be lifted. The roads will also be shifted to a soft closure.
Crews on Thursday morning will start in and cold trail a piece in higher elevation and slowly work their way through the whole area. There are close to 300 firefighters at the Bennion Fire.
Shifting to the Bear Fire, Fike stated that on the first evening it was evident there were a lot of problems, with the high winds and the closure of Highway 6. He said they knew the priorities needed to be the town, structures, public and getting the highway back open.
“We knew we had a handful,” said Fike.
All of the resources from the team focused on Bear Fire first and the effort also included the power lines and railroad. On Tuesday, crews hiked up the last drainage from the top and bottom and have the area essentially cold trailed. Pike stated that, by no means, is the fire out and it is not 100% secured. However, the crews have their eyes in and tools to work and pull the fire back.
The Wednesday focus was continuing to follow the edge of the fire to cold trail it back to Hardscrabble. As of Wednesday morning, the fire has reached 11,649 acres and Fike said he could not imagine that it is going to show much growth tomorrow.
“This is a very, very tough fire fight,” he shared.
Crews will continue chasing the fire down, mopping it up and continuing with the cold trail for the next several days. He said the crew will not leave until they are confident that it is ready for another type 3 organization.