Smoke chokes Bryce Canyon National Park as wildfire scorches 3,000 acres in Utah

The Left Fork Fire is about 5% contained, officials said.

(Bryce Canyon National Park) Smoke from the Left Fork Fire can be seen from Bryce Canyon National Park.

The Left Fork Fire continues to rage in Dixie National Forest after scorching over 3,000 acres with only about 5% containment as of Tuesday morning.

Smoke from the fire billows into Bryce Canyon National Park. The flame is Burn about 6.5 miles from Rainbow Pointan overlook at the south end of the park, near where officials closed three of the park’s backcountry campgrounds on Tuesday.

A park spokesman told The Salt Lake Tribune that they did not expect the fire to spread to the campgrounds. The park is not expecting any further closures at this time.

The Left Fork Fire is an outgrowth of a prescribed fire that spiraled out of control on May 9th. After burning down 100 acres, officials believed the fire was contained. Due to high winds and heat that weekend, the fire reignited on Saturday.

Winds picked up Tuesday afternoon and air support landed near the southwest corner of the fire, where crews were beginning to see more activity, Sierra Hellstrom, a spokeswoman for a Panguitch-based Type 3 incident management team, told the Tribune .

Air support is still active for other parts of the fire thanks to reduced winds on Monday and Tuesday. There, emergency services sprinkled fire protection agents and water over burning hot fires in the area.

No injuries or damage to buildings were reported. No evacuations have been ordered so far, but authorities are considering efforts as the southwest portion of the fire heats up.

Officials have no time estimate of when the fire might be contained.

“It really depends on the weather over the next few days,” Hellstrom said. “If it continues to stay cool and less windy then there’s a better chance we can contain it a little quicker. But right now, with the weather being so unpredictable, it can become a lot harder to have a time frame.”

Firefighters were able to better assess the spread of the fire on Monday due to more favorable weather conditions, which also resulted in minimal fire growth.

On Monday, Dixie National Forest expanded the area, road and trail closure around the fire. A Type 3 Incident Management Team — a multi-jurisdictional team of 10 to 20 people that responds to widespread incidents — also responded to the fire Monday.

Officials of Bryce Canyon specified On Monday, northwesterly winds had reduced smoke in the Bryce Amphitheater area, but smoke and haze persisted throughout the park, particularly on the Southern Scenic Drive.

The park hasn’t experienced drastic air quality changes, although officials tell the public smoke and haze are possible throughout the park. Smoke chokes Bryce Canyon National Park as wildfire scorches 3,000 acres in Utah

Joel McCord

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