U.S. Forest Service battles wildfire near Smith Morehouse
Fire crews with the U.S. Forest Service are fighting an active wildfire near Smith and Morehouse Reservoir that led to the forced evacuations on Thursday of nearly 20 members of a Boy Scout Troop in a popular area of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
At around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, the Scouts were removed from a hiking trail with the help of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and Utah Highway Patrol, according to Jeff Schramm, Heber-Kamas District Ranger. Schramm said the evacuations were more of a precaution and no one was in immediate danger.
As of Friday afternoon, the Box Canyon blaze covered around 385 acres and was moving in a southeast direction toward Erickson Basin above the Ledge Fork campground in Weber Canyon. It was reported at around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. An investigation is ongoing to determine the cause.
The fire is being actively managed by the U.S. Forest Service. No injuries associated with the fire had been reported as of Friday. Several hikers and campers in the area also voluntarily chose to evacuate.
On Friday, Schramm said the flames did not extend to the upper reaches of the trees, adding that there was some “external torching.” He referred to it as a ground fire.
“It’s not a crowning fire and it’s real light smoke right now,” he said. “But it does have some interior torching trees and within the perimeter there is some torching, but it’s more of a creeping ground fire.”
On Friday, closures went into effect for the areas surrounding the fire, generally between Lakes Country and the Ledge Fork campground near Smith and Morehouse Reservoir. The Smith and Morehouse Trail (Trail 236) is closed north of the junction with Big Elk Lake Trail (Trail 203) near Ramona Lake. Spring Canyon Trail (Trail 235) is also closed north of Lower Shingle Creek Lake.
“We are currently managing the fire to keep it from coming down into the Ledge Fork campground at the end of Smith and Morehouse,” Schramm said. “We have asked people to leave the campground and the area and we will be continuing to do that. That is our primary objective and we will be looking at other suppression action to keep it from coming down into Ledge Fork.”
For more information about the Box Canyon fire and any additional closures in the area, follow the U.S. Forest Service Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest on Facebook and Twitter. Information can also be found on utahfireinfo.gov.
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A new county public health order that went into effect Friday adopts Gov. Gary Herbert’s guidelines for the low-risk level of the coronavirus response.