Pack Creek Fire Erupts Close to Moab
On the afternoon of June 9th, a wildfire erupted on the Manti-La Sal National Forest 13 miles southeast of Moab. The Pack Creek Fire began from an abandoned campfire in the Pack Creek Picnic area on a day where temperatures exceeded 100 degrees and the National Weather Service had issued high wind warnings.
Due to the hot conditions and high winds, the fire blew up quickly to over 5000 acres in the first 48 hours. Temperatures in the Moab valley hovered around 109 degrees with 2% – 4% humidity the first week of the fire. Cooler temperatures and higher humidity with rain over the La Sal Mountains enabled firefighters to achieve 82% containment as of June 29. The Pack Creek Fire has burned 8,952 acres.
Four primary structures and six outbuildings were lost in the Pack Creek community and five primary structures were damaged by fire. At its peak, the fire included a type 2 incident management team, a total of 16 crews including 578 personnel, 34 engines, and 11 helicopters. The estimated cost of fighting this fire is over $10 million.
- Click here for more information on the Pack Creek Fire
- Pack Creek Fire Road and Trail Closures – PDF, 326 kb
- Pack Creek InciWeb page (100% contained as of 7/9/21 but still burning in interior)
Fuel Treatments Ease Fire Behavior in Pack Creek
The Pack Creek Wildfire, ignited by an abandoned campfire, started early in the fire season on June 9, 2021 in the Pack Creek Day Use Area on the Manti-La Sal National Forest.
Under the influence of down-slope, down-canyon winds, the fire made a push west and down Pack Creek. The fire quickly exploded as a crown fire through a riparian area composed largely of cottonwood trees and pinyon and juniper landscapes. Within the community, fuel breaks implemented by Forestry, Fire, and State Lands (State of Utah, FFSL) were designed to act as intermittent catch points for firefighters to actively engage the fire.
The Pack Creek Fire exhibited advanced fire behavior under high winds and drought conditions not seen since the 1930’s dust bowl era.
- As the fire burned through the Pack Creek Community, an intense firefighting battle ensued to save homes and structures.
- Even riparian zones burned with extreme fire intensity down canyon with flanking fire spreading outward north and south towards numerous structures.
- Fire engines were deployed to pretreat structures ahead of the fire, retreat to safe zones, followed by reengaging and extinguishing any structure fires after the main fire front passed by.
- Years of thinning on private lands within the subdivision by FFSL allowed fire resources to remain safely in the subdivision and saved numerous structures.
When the wildfire entered treated areas with lower tree density, fire behavior transitioned from a very intense crown fire to a much less intense surface fire and lost much of its western momentum. The treatments and lower intensity allowed firefighters to successfully hold the fire along Pack Creek Road. For the complete article, videos and pictures click here.
Volunteer Service Saturday
As part of Arches’ monthly Service Saturdays, five volunteers gathered at Lower Courthouse Wash to pick up the trash that blows from Highway 191 and the bike path into the area. Two Moab residents, a recent high school graduate from New Hampshire (here for two weeks volunteering), and a couple traveling around the Southwest donned NPS Volunteer safety vests, grabbed some trash grabbers, and got to work. The group gathered large pieces of cardboard, plastic bags, broken glass, cigarette butts, food wrappers, and all other sorts of litter caught in bushes and along washes: a total of 19 pounds of trash!
Their work will reduce the amount of plastic that will end up in animals’ stomachs and prevent the trash from washing downstream into the Colorado River. Arches and Canyonlands national parks are so grateful for our volunteers – we couldn’t run the parks without their help!
Service Saturdays occur on the fourth Saturday of every month. If you’re interested in participating, please contact Sofia Nicholson (Outreach & Volunteers Assistant Coordinator) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 435-719-2214.
Stage 2 Fire Restrictions Now in Place
Beginning June 25, 2021, Manti-La Sal National Forest implemented Stage 2 fire restrictions for all National Forest System lands located within the Sanpete, Ferron/Price, Moab, and Monticello Ranger Districts of the Manti-La Sal National Forest boundaries. These same fire restrictions are in effect for all BLM lands and National Park Units in southeast Utah.
“With the extremely dry year we are facing, and unprecedented fire activity we are experiencing so early in the year, it is necessary to take measures to prevent any more wildfires on our national forest,” said Darren Olsen, acting Manti-La Sal Forest Supervisor.
Within the first two weeks of June, Manti-La Sal experienced two large wildfires within the forest boundaries, the Bennion Creek Fire in the northern portion of the forest and the Pack Creek fire burning in the La Sal mountain range area. Both fires exhibited extreme fire behavior due to the drought-like conditions and high winds.
With a noticeable increase in public recreation on the Forest, the potential for human-caused fires also increases. Restrictions are placed to reduce the potential for human-caused fires. Remember to recreate responsibly during visits to the Manti-La Sal.
The following acts are prohibited until fire danger decreases and fire restrictions are rescinded:
- Igniting, building, maintaining, or using a fire, including charcoal and briquettes.
- No discharging of fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices outside of incorporated city limits. This applies year-round to national forest lands.
- No shooting of exploding targets or tracer ammunition. This applies year-round to national forest lands.
- No cutting, grinding, or welding of metal in areas of dry vegetation. This includes acetylene torches.
- No use of equipment without a working and properly maintained spark arrestor. This applies year-round to national forest lands.
- No smoking near vegetation or outside of a developed recreation site, personal vehicle, or building.
Moab Information Center 2021 Lecture Series
Canyonlands Natural History Association (CNHA) ~ Moab Museum
Thursday’s @ 5:00 p.m.
July 22, Jeff Moore: Vibration and the Lifecycle of Natural Arches: Decoding the Language of Stone
This is an excerpt from the Canyonlands Natural History Association’s Member Newsletter. To find out more about CNHA and how to get your own copy delivered, visit the Canyonlands Natural History Association website.