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Fire in Hiker Territory

MANTI-LA SAL NATIONAL FOREST — Local authorities turned back hikers and backpackers Friday after a fire in the Dark Canyon Wilderness began to spread.

Sandy Nelson of the Moab Interagency Fire Center said the fire reached 100 acres Friday night and was growing.

"Our biggest priority right now is anybody that's in there hiking (or) backpacking," Nelson said. "(We're) trying to identify who might be there and get them out and then keeping other people from coming in."

Nelson said they were not aware of the Dark Canyon Fire until Friday afternoon because they were working on other fires in the area, like the Lackey Fan Fire that had burned more than 800 acres by Friday night.

She said the remote area makes it challenging to get hikers out safely. They have asked for the help of law enforcement to keep people out until they know the fire direction.

"Most people would have situational awareness and they would be aware if there's a fire, they throw out a lot of smoke," she said. "We're just trying to get people out of harms way there so we can get resources there."

Nelson said the only concern for structure damage in the area is the Gooseberry Forest Service Ranger Station at the top of the Abajo Mountain Range.

— Emilee Eagar