by Maxine Deeter
This week there is actual real news from our fair village. By the way, the population of La Sal had doubled as of Sunday evening with the arrival of a type II fire team for the Lackey Fan fire.
The last census put the population of La Sal and surrounding area at about 300 people. The fire contingent numbered just over 300 so it really did double the size of our community.
The fire began Friday afternoon with a dry lightning strike. Hot gusty winds soon whipped the fire up and sent it scurrying across the Lackey Fan.
This weekend’s main activity was fire watching. The first day there was a lot of smoke. By Sunday, you wondered if there really was still a fire as just little puffs of smoke could be seen here and there.
That is because the fire had mostly moved into Lackey Canyon and was obscured from view. It was more obvious on highway 191 if you were going to or coming from Moab.
Sunday evening, small spots of flame could be seen after dark. Fortunately, even though the fire is less than four miles away from our homes, it is climbing the mountain and not moving into our valley.
Depending on the direction of the wind, we did get the smell of smoke now and then. Sometimes quite strongly. That would be the biggest danger I think for our town.
It is ironic that my partner and I were out of town as the fire started. We were attending a Society for Range Management summer tour.
Our first day was spent looking at the rehabilitation from the Sandy Hollow fire in San Pete County last summer. This fire took out homes and livestock and at least one life.
We spent Friday looking at urban/fire interface projects which are geared to protect homes and cabins from fire danger by removing close vegetation.
Shortly thereafter, our La Sal son sent photos of what was happening “meanwhile back at the ranch”.
We don’t know how long our village will stay doubled. These folks could move out as fast as they moved in. Headquarters for the fire team is the community center and school.
The ball field provides a perfect place for fire personnel to pitch their tents. Catering and shower facilities as well as commissary and other support facilities were set up across the road in a field.
Sunday, two helicopters were observed carrying water from the pond near Rattlesnake Ranch to an area east of La Sal.
There was evidently another fire in that area. I suspect it was on Wray Mesa, which is susceptible to fires and in the last couple of years has been subject to Wildland/Urban Interface projects.
One casualty of this arrangement is that our little library will be closed for at least this week. That has some folks quite bummed.
There will be no summer reading activities this week. And just when things were getting started and going well for the awesome summer reading program. We’ll have to see how long this situation lasts. But, for now, things are just a little exciting in Sierra La Sal.
It is stacking up to be a very dry, hot summer. Hopefully we will have a good monsoon season. In downtown La Sal where they depend on water from springs north of town, folks have been unable to even shower as the water is just dribbling in.
Water is limiting gardens there as well. Most folks in La Sal have private wells for water so their situation is not quite as dire.
Do you wonder that in the desert southwest, water is the most precious of commodities? I think it is time to get out and start rain dancing and praying for those monsoons to come soon!