Southern Utah News Articles
Shingle Creek Fire frustrates Kane County Commissioners
Tired commissioners and an exhausted county sheriff gave updates on the condition of the Shingle Creek Fire. As of this writing it is 50% contained.
The county commissioners believe the fire could have been contained the first day if they could have followed through and put the fire out. The county road crew was quick to respond as well as citizens with dozers and equipment. Four dozers were ready to go by 6 p.m., however because the fire was on Forest Service Land, the procedure was too problematic and only one dozer was allowed to operate until 10 pm. That dozer was allowed to go one blade wide and no more than 2” deep. County road personnel are fire certified, but the county does not have a dozer boss.
The fire, which was human caused, was one third contained by the one dozer. ATV tracks were found in the area where the fire started. Was it an accident or on purpose? At this point it is under investigation.
The commissioners believe the fire could have been contained the first 24 hours if the county had been allowed to use its resources. The fire destroyed two unoccupied structures, an unfinished cabin and a storage shed, and came very close to other structures.
Kane County Sheriff Lamont Smith appreciated the way people responded to the evacuation orders. “The people on the mountain were exceptional.” As of this writing, the evacuation orders have been released.
Sheriff Smith did express disappointment with some residents in the Elk Ridge Subdivision. “It is a safety issue, we don’t have any discretion. Sometimes we have to take a hard stand. We don’t have time to argue,” said Sheriff Smith. One person was arrested. It is a Class B Misdemeanor if a person stays when ordered to evacuate.
The area is still closed and will be for the rest of the season. There is lots of mop up work and restoration that needs to be done. The commissioners and Sheriff had great praise for all who were quick to respond.
The county has requested a post analysis meeting with Forest Service. They believe the fire proves that the lack of timber management practices have resulted in a “massive fuel overload.”
In other business, the commissioners met with Kane County Hospital Administrator Sherrie Pandya for an update. Pandya reviewed recent audit figures and comparison sheets of hospital usage. Accounts receivable collections have improved. She said there are good insurances in Kane County.
Also discussed were ambulance use and the importance of Critical Care Status because Medicare pays much better. They had to move the ambulance out of Duck Creek to Alton because there are not enough EMTs in Duck Creek.
When asked if she could change one thing Pandya replied, “more population base so we could be self-sustaining.”