Official: Fireworks may be to blame for Moab blaze

SALT LAKE CITY — Fire officials say campers playing with fireworks may be to blame for a 65-acre wildfire that threatened homes and wetlands west of the scenic city of Moab before it was contained this afternoon.

Moab Valley Fire District Chief Corky Brewer said two adults and a juvenile interviewed by investigators admitted they were playing with fireworks and may have started the blaze Monday afternoon in a creek drainage area on the city’s west side.

“I don’t believe it was intentional, but that’s my thought process after talking with them,” said Brewer, noting the information would be turned over to the Grand County Attorney’s Office to determine if any charges should be filed. He identified the three as a brother and sister, and the sister’s boyfriend. He did provide their names.

Flames from the fire, fueled by winds gusting up to 50 mph, touched several houses Monday, and forced the evacuation of about 200 homes Monday night. Owners were allowed to return early Tuesday morning.

More than 100 firefighters, including crews from Montana and Colorado, battled the blaze.

Brewer said crews brought it under control shortly after midnight Monday, and had it contained this afternoon. He said crews would monitor hot spots overnight Tuesday.

No injuries were reported, and no structures were damaged.

Sue Bellagamba, Canyonlands regional director for The Nature Conservancy, said some interpretive signs in the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve were damaged. But she reported no damage to boardwalks and other visitor facilities. The 900-acre preserve is the largest intact wetlands on the Colorado River in Utah.

“The key today was a little cooler weather and a lot less wind and the hard work by these firefighters,” Brewer said, noting that six homes were in imminent danger of being destroyed and another 30 were threatened.


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