Tuesday, August 11, 2020


Moab, UT

91.8 F

    Helicopter traffic due to Roc Fire

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    Ron Drake
    Ron Drake
    Times-Independent Columnist

    There continues to be a lot of smoke in the air around Castle Valley and the La Sal Mountains most of which, as of late, is probably caused by the Roc Fire. The fire is in the Manti-La Sal National Forest under the jurisdiction of the Montrose Bureau of Land Management office.

    writer ron drake

    Lightning started the fire June 26 and it was reported at about 7 p.m. after a storm moved through the area. The fire is located in steep and rocky terrain on the east aspect of Carpenter Ridge to the east of the Buckeye Reservoir Recreation Area and five miles northwest of Paradox, Colorado. As of Tuesday it remained at 210 acres.

    Buckeye Campground was evacuated by Forest Service law enforcement officers for safety due to aircraft using the reservoir as a water source. Some progress was made in containing the fire using firefighting aircraft but windy and dry conditions hampered efforts to contain the fire. As of Tuesday the fire was approximately 20 percent contained and not progressing as quickly as at first despite the fire weather. A red flag warning was in effect for the first of the week because of dry fuels, low relative humidity and gusty winds.

    The Roc Fire had 13 engines and crew members, two firefighting hand crews and three helicopters battling the blaze. Those helicopters with buckets were seen by many Castle Valley residents flying over our valley last Sunday as they traveled back and forth to Canyonlands Airport for fuel and to be used as their base, according to fire officials.

    • • •

    It is going to be hot next Saturday, the Fourth of July and regrettably, because of COVID-19, the Castle Valley Fire Department will not host its annual Independence Day celebration at the fire station this year. In the past a pancake breakfast was served along with a parade and activities around the station including their portable water tank, which delighted the kids and some of the adults.

    This year The Friends of the Fire Department are organizing a parade consisting of fire engines, floats, and any other vehicle that people would like to enter. It will begin at Keogh Lane at 10 a.m. and proceed down Castle Valley Drive to the fire station. To keep everyone safe, they are requesting no walkers or bicycles in the parade and ask viewers to spread out at a proper distance along Castle Valley Drive and wear a mask if within six feet of one another.

    Since the engines will be carrying an ample amount of water in the parade, some of the firefighters might not be able to contain the urge to spread some of it around to the spectators. Contact Susan Halliday at 259-4606 with questions about the parade.

    The Fourth of July is also traditionally the time for celebrating with the use of fireworks and other explosive devices. But not in Castle Valley. Town Ordinance 2007-6 prohibits the use of all types of fireworks when the fire danger is posted at “high” or above. The ordinance states in part: “The use of any aerial fireworks, such as ‘bottle’ or ‘penny’ rockets or any other combustion-propelled device shall be a class B misdemeanor.” It is just too dangerous to be using any type of firecrackers, spinners or similar ground devices in the summer in Castle Valley. Moab has an excellent fireworks show every Independence Day on the hill east of town that is visible from most everywhere.

    • • •

    The Castle Valley Hazard Mitigation Committee will hold a public hearing next Wednesday, July 8 beginning at 6 p.m. The committee was formed several years ago to create a local Hazard Mitigation plan for Castle Valley. This plan involves collecting histories of past disasters, estimate approximate loss, and form strategies to prevent and mitigate effects of possible hazards. The mitigation process is outlined by FEMA and is looked upon favorably when seeking assistance for mitigation efforts or in times of disasters.

    The committee would like public input of the 2020 draft, which can be seen on the town website: www.castlevalleyutah.com. This hearing will be held electronically by conference call. Email townclerk@townofcastlevalleyutah.com for details.

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