Crews continue prep work on Chippean Fire burnout project as weather delays start
BLANDING, Utah: August 13 — Weather wasn’t favorable enough Monday for crews on the 227-acre Chippean Fire to begin a burnout project north of the Causeway Road in the Manti-La Sal National Forest.
That operation aims to clear the cluttered understory of a valued stand of ponderosa pine on the opposite side of the forest road from the site of a lightning strike that started the fire a week ago. Meeting that objective would help that part of the forest resist the potentially devastating effects of a high-intensity, unmanaged fire.
“We don’t have a hurry-up-and-burn mentality,” Incident Commander Jon Shaffer said. “We will wait patiently for the proper conditions that will produce the desired results.”
In the meantime, crews prepared for that opportunity by cutting more line around the project area and removing unburned fuels from a 126-acre area south of the road where combustible materials were ignited Sunday to widen control lines around the fire’s point of origin.
Incident managers plan to spend Tuesday reinforcing roadside control lines on this major arterial used by locals and visitors who want access to hunting units, trailheads and scenic overlooks. If conditions warrant, the burnout will begin.
“If smoke decreases visibility, we will post resources on Causeway Road at the east and west boundaries of the project area for firefighter and public safety,” Shaffer said.
Causeway Road and Forest Road 0088 remain open, and forest managers are assessing whether conditions have improved enough to reopen roads closed since mid-July by the nearby Peavine Canyon and Poison Canyon fires.
Monday’s higher temperatures increased activity inside both of those older fires, which are being monitored by two engine crews.
Information about the status of road and trail closures is available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/mantilasal/. To receive email updates, sign up in the “Stay Connected!” box on the forest website.