The fire involved a single cedar tree, which was likely struck by lightning the night before and simmered all night before the heat and wind of the following day caused the fire to flare up. One engine and four Castle Valley firemen were soon on the scene to control the blaze and were joined by a BLM crew who responded from Moab.
This recent incident caused little damage except for the tree, but the firefighting services take these fires seriously because of the potential for disaster that can result. Many remember the Porcupine Ranch Fire that blackened several thousand acres in the La Sal Mountains several years ago. That fire actually started the night before during a lightning storm and festered all night long until the hot temperatures, low humidity and wind brought the fire to life the following afternoon and it soon raged out of control.
More recently, during the evening hours of Tuesday, July 15, a spectacular lightning storm hit the area and sparked several fires in the upper Castle Valley area. Castle Valley Fire Department members were returning home from their training meeting when they noticed two lightning strikes immediately followed by large flames. Two engines and six fire volunteers responded and found one fire to be at the upper end of Pope Lane on private land. A crew of three people hiked about a quarter of a mile to extinguish the single blazing tree.
The other fire was straight up the hill from the end of Taylor Lane, near the base of Porcupine Rim, probably on BLM land. Other agencies including Grand County Fire Warden Mark Marcum, a BLM crew, a National Park Service crew and an engine from Canyonlands National Park responded. They elected to spend the night in Castle Valley and hike to the fire early the next morning and also be ready for other fires that were sure to surface during the heat of the day Wednesday.
The Town of Castle Valley and the Castle Valley Fire Department are joining forces in preparing a letter to be sent out to all Castle Valley property owners and residents regarding fire safety, fire preparedness and other fire-related subjects. Bill Rau, a member of the planning and land use commission was recruited to craft the letter, and members of the town council and fire commissioners are reviewing it before it is sent out. It is designed to be a reminder of the volatile fire danger that exists in the valley and the letter offers suggestions and resources to find help with individual properties.
The letters will be sent out by way of the U.S. Postal Service or by email. Castle Valley Town Clerk Ali Fuller suggests people use the email route to save the town money on postage and paper. She has a short list of email addresses for those who have signed up to receive town notices but she would like to have a lot more people sign up for the town’s emails. She doesn’t want to burden people with a lot of emails but she sends out monthly notices of the town council meeting agendas and other important information that comes up from time to time.
Anyone can sign up by going to the town’s web page at www.castlevalleyutah.com, which will take you to the town’s home page and at the left-side bottom of the page enter your email address by clicking on “join the mailing list.” Enter your email address in the space provided and Ali will keep you informed of the town’s activities.
It was 35 years this week when this column reported that the county road crews had finished their work of installing the culvert and road work on Castle Valley Drive where it crosses Castle Creek. “Fred Johnson, road chairman for the property owners association expressed his appreciation to the county commissioners, superintendent Bob Westwood and the crews for their support in helping with this project.” The road was still fairly steep at the creek crossing and the county road department returned a dozen or so years later and moved material from both sides of the creek and deposited it over the culvert, which lessened the grade at the crossing.
Thirty years ago, M.L. Terry, manager of the Moab office of Continental Telephone, told residents that there would be no new telephone service available. The 100 service lines that were originally installed nearly four years previous were filled up, something that Contel officials thought would never happen. New equipment was ordered and installed later in the year. Phone service has had to be upgraded several times over the years as more lines were required to meet the demand.