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Update: As of Tuesday, 6/15, containment had increased to 16 percent, after the fire grew moderately on Monday afternoon to 8,435 acres. There are now 11 crews and 426 personnel working to contain the fire, and protect structures in the area, as well as vital power and communication lines that serve southwest Utah.
The Pack Creek Fire currently burning through southern Utah’s La Sal Mountains has already crossed several of the region’s popular trails, and is on a path to hit the crown jewel Whole Enchilada system.
The fire started June 9 from an abandoned campfire, and has spread quickly, ripping through dry pinyon and juniper in a zone severely impacted by the worst drought in nearly a century. As of today, the fire had burned 8,243 acres and was just 6 percent contained, according to Utah Wildfire Info, the state’s wildfire division.
The fire is burning through a popular high-elevation riding zone near Geyser Pass Road, which includes the Moonlight Meadows and Clark Lake trails, and is threatening the top sections of the Whole Enchilada, including the Burro Pass and Warner Lake sections. The Whole Enchilada is one of the country’s top destination rides, drawing bucket-list riders from all over the world to experience its topographic diversity and stunning views. The ride drops some 7,800 feet in elevation over nearly 30 miles, starting in the high alpine at 10,500 feet above sea level in the La Sals, and ending on Moab’s famous Porcupine Rim trail.
The Forest Service closed a large portion of the Manti-La Sal National Forest on Saturday, as wildland firefighters attempt to get the blaze under control. The closure affects most of the trails in the La Sals, including roughly 10 miles of the Whole Enchilada on the Burro Pass and Hazard County trails.
The combination of record heat, extremely dry fuels and steep, rugged terrain have the deck stacked against firefighters, but there are more than 300 firefighters on-site, eight helicopters and 32 engines. Read the full Forest closure here and stay up to date on the fire at utahfireinfo.gov.