Friday, July 10, 2020


Moab, UT

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    Castle Valley Comments
    July 12, 2018

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    To say I woke up on the Monday morning of the evacuation...

    The Castle Valley Fire Department was paged out last Saturday, July 7 at 8:01 pm for a series of lightning related fires at the upper end of the valley. One fire was located at 331 Keogh Lane and involved a cedar tree. Two Castle Valley engines responded to that fire and quickly had it under control.

    Two other brush trucks arrived to the second fire, which was located about a quarter-mile beyond the end of Castle Valley Drive in the Upper 80 section of the town. Two firemen initially responded on foot to that fire and they were joined by two others as they arrived at the staging area. They found three trees that were torched by the lightning and they had that fire scene secured within an hour.

    The third fire was fairly high on Porcupine Rim, east of the other fires. That fire was under the command of Grand County Fire Warden Mark Marcum who had support from a Bureau of Land Management engine and crew and a crew from the State Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. They elected to wait until morning to secure that fire scene since it had little probability of spreading during the night. They spent the night at Fire Station One and climbed to the area at first light the following morning.

    An exact same scenario occurred four years ago this month when a couple of fires started by lightning in the upper valley and a fire high up on the rim burned all night before being controlled by state and federal crews the next morning. Most of that crew spent the night on Larry and Lesley Craig’s deck to sleep and watch the fire back then.

    Sunday evening about the same time as the previous night, a Castleton resident called to report a lightning strike near the base of Adobe Mesa. They could see smoke and flames from their vantage point. One engine from the Castle Valley Fire Department responded to the area and found the fire and subsequently passed the information to the Grand County dispatch office and the Moab Inter-agency Fire Center who sent state and federal units out. They hiked to the fire scene and contained the area that night.

    * * *

    The Fourth of July breakfast, parade and other activities that were sponsored by the Castle Valley Fire Department and organized by Susan Halliday and Diane Ackerman were a great success. The girls recruited many volunteers to cook the pancakes and bacon, serve the orange juice and coffee, help organize the games and parade and the many other chores needed to pull off an event of that magnitude. “It was a ton of fun, people had a blast,” Halliday stated this week. She heard a lot of comments about community spirit and the togetherness that people felt during the festivities.

    There were an estimated 100 people for the breakfast, which included pancakes, bacon, orange juice and coffee, all furnished by City Market in addition to coffee that was donated by Moab Coffee Roasters. Michael Peck volunteered as the official coffee barista and Laura Cameron helped with the juice. Ron Mengel, Alice Drogin, Dorr Hatch and probably others flipped the pancakes and Jeff Johnston, Dave and Diane Vaughn and others cooked the bacon. Diane Ackerman ran the bake sale and Faylene Roth and husband Mark managed the parade. The fire department set up their portable tank and filled it with 2,500 gallons of water and the report is that Diane Ackerman was the first to take the plunge followed by many of the children. After the event the water was drained onto the dry lawn of the town hall grounds. Librarian Jenny Haraden helped with the bicycle decorating and State Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands Fire Prevention Officer Heather McLean brought Smokey Bear to the Friday evening event much to the delight the kids and most of the adults. Scott Ackerman was the one sweltering inside the suit. It was a great event and Halliday says everyone wants to do it again next year.

    Pat and I went to Moab on the evening of the Fourth for dinner at the home of our daughter and son-in-law and to watch the annual fireworks display from their front yard afterward. In past years on the Fourth of July, Moab looked like a war zone with missiles and mortars and all manner of pyrotechnics being discharged everywhere and the Moab Fire Department scrambling to put out the resulting fires. This year, by contrast, Moab people must have been mindful of the extreme fire danger and the restrictions because the town seemed quiet. There were only two illegal aerial launches on the south side of town that we saw. And the official fireworks display was as good as ever by a different company than usual which is from Sandy and which does another show every year in Grand County during the annual music festival.

    ByBy Ron Drake

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