UPDATED: Human-caused fire burns across 700 acres northwest of Beryl, stands 25% contained

Photo used for illustrative purposes | Firefighters respond to a brush fire in Washington County, Utah, September 2017 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

ST. GEORGE —With plumes of smoke visible from Cedar City, a fire named the Chokecherry Fire has spread across approximately 700 acres on state, private and federal land northwest of Beryl, Utah.

View of smoke plumes rising from the Choke Cherry Fire near the Utah/Nevada border, April 5, 2021 | Courtesy of Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, St. George News

Fire crews from multiple agencies began to respond around 3 p.m. on Monday, according to information posted by the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. Using bulldozers and aircraft, firefighters were able to stop the blaze’s spread, but it is currently 0% contained. 

Area Fire Management Officer Mike Melton said the fire was human caused, but the circumstances are still under investigation. He said that firefighters are still mopping up hot spots and that most of the burn area is smoldering. The fire is burning through pinyon juniper trees, grass and bushes in the remote region near the Nevada border.

The area was under a red flag warning, with high winds and drought conditions making the fire difficult to contain, said Wildfire Communications Coordinator Kaitlyn Webb.

Evacuation orders have been lifted, but five structures are still threatened and some local roads have been closed. No injuries have been reported.

The map released by fire officials to show where the Choke Cherry Fire is active near Hamlin Valley, Utah, April 5, 2021 | Courtesy of Utah Fire Info, St. George News

In total, 10 fire engines, three water tenders and four aircraft – including two large air tankers – were dispatched. Cooperating agencies include the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Beryl Fire Department, Iron County Sheriff and Iron County Road Department.

As of Tuesday afternoon the fire was 25% contained, and firefighters continue to address hot spots and build handlines.

Melton said the cause of the fire has been identified as a legally permitted burn that got out of control. After following the proper procedures for a controlled burn, the person at fault failed to make sure the burned area was cold to the touch.

Gusts of wind fanned the piles of ash and revived the fire as it spread to the dried brush nearby. A total of 85 firefighters are assigned to the blaze, and two additional fire engines have been sent, Melton said.

Updated April 6, 8 p.m. with additional details about the incident.

This is a developing story.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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