Red flag warning poses challenges to crews battling the Neck Fire

Southern Utah

UPDATE 09/11/19: The fire is still at 19,151 acres, but crews have reached 100% containment

IRON COUNTY (ABC4 News) – UPDATE: As of Tuesday evening (9/9/19), officials reported the fire was 19,151 acres and 67% contained.

A red flag warning in Southern Utah posed a threat to firefighters who have been battling the Neck Fire since Thursday afternoon.

ABC4’s Katie Karalis met with crews on scene Monday about 25 miles northwest of Cedar City, who said the flames were lightning-caused and burned more than 19,000 acres.

Firefighters said the fire has been aggressive from the start, torching 3,500 acres within the first few hours.

“It burned actively all through Thursday night, and I think it was about 10,000 acres by the next morning,” said Neck Fire division supervisor Trevor Frandsen. “The fuels have been carrying the fire.”

With wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour, high temperatures, and low humidity through Monday evening, firefighters said they’re working around the clock to secure the perimeter of the control line. Crews said their biggest concern is that embers will carry over the line due to the strong winds.

After such a wet spring, fire officials said the grasses are much taller than normal, fully dried out, and ready to burn.

Resources include 3 hotshot crews, 6 helicopters, 6 hand crews, 15 engines, 3 dozers, and 7 water tenders, according to fire officials.

“We’re just trying to keep our guys well hydrated and make sure they’re well taken care of,” said Taylor Jones, a wildland firefighter with Utah County Fire.

While the fire has not threatened any structures yet, firefighters said the flames are close to the endangered sage grouse habitat and homes to the Utah prairie dogs.

Tuesday will pose an even bigger challenge to crews, with wind gusts up to 45 miles per hour, according to Frandsen.


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