Chris Holmes

News Correspondent - Southern Utah

Chris Holmes will soon graduate with a Masters of Professional Communication from Southern Utah University. While at SUU his work received numerous awards including the 2009 King Foundation Best of Festival Award in the National Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts. Chris is also the host of the daily public affairs program, Southern Utah Forum on radio station KSUB (Cedar City, Utah). He lives in Cedar City, with wife, Marie and five children.

Sunday, the national weather service issued a flash flood warning for areas of Washington county Utah, Lincoln county Nevada, and Mohave county Arizona. And as it turns out, they had it spot on. A flash flood warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring. Residents living along streams and creeks were asked to take immediate precautions to protect life and property.

Indeed, some St. George streets were soaked with as much as two feet of standing water after heavy rains fell for nearly an hour flooding homes and businesses. Damage assessments are still being made. 

Mesquite, Nev. police officers have arrested a local man after months of investigation, gathering evidence, and talking with victims and witnesses in a string of burglaries that were committed throughout the city since the beginning of the year.

Wesley McClain, 24, of Mesquite was arrested on 10 counts of burglary and four counts of attempted burglary after detectives obtained and executed search warrants for his residence and vehicle.

The lightning caused Baboon fire quickly more than doubled in size to over 17,000 acres, prompting the evacuation of personnel from a portion of Utah's largest livestock complex. 

Thunderstorms sparked the blaze around noon Thursday. Another squall in the afternoon aided firefighters with higher humidity and spotty showers, but not before authorities called for the human evacuation of a portion of the expansive Circle 4 Hog Farm south of Milford. 

Monsoonal flows helped firefighters in southern Utah gain the upper hand on wildfires last week, but the same summer weather phenomenon also brings lightning. It was only a matter of time before southern Utah felt the monsoon's double-edged sword.

There are a dozen or so small fires burning in the Arizona strip caused by lightning. the most threatening appears to be the Baboon Fire burning between Cedar City and Minersville.

The fire has burned 1,500 acres and is 0% contained.

The new expanded bans apply to areas in southern Utah and northwest Arizona. The new restrictions go into effect in Washington, Iron, Beaver, Kane, Garfield, Wayne, Piute, Sevier and Sanpete Counties, as well as BLM lands in Coconino and Mohave Counties in Arizona.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Spokesperson Denise Shultz said a New Mexico family was enjoying the scenery and looking at Peekaboo Arch on Friday, when 2 personal watercrafts collided, killing 2 riders. In addition, a juvenile female was taken to the hospital and later released.

On June 21 a man entered the Bloomington Branch of Wells Fargo Bank in St. George and demanded money. No weapons were displayed, nor was anyone inured, but the suspect did leave on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Wells Fargo and the Utah Bankers Association are offering up to $10,000 as a reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

After several days of multiplying acreage, the Shingle Fire in Kane County has remained an 8,200-acre blaze for 2 days. But generally cooler temperatures, higher relative humidity, and even some rain fall has helped the 350 or so firefighters stabilize fire lines.

Even though the fire hasn't gained new acreage for 2 days, it is still only 10% contained. The aggressive aerial bombardment of water and fire retardant also continues.

A town meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening in Duck Creek Village to inform residents on the present fire situation.

U.S. Forest Service

It now has a name. What locals were calling the Swains Creek Fire is now being called the Shingle Fire by Color Country Fire Management Authorities, after Shingle Mill Canyon where the human caused wildfire started on Sunday.

A wildfire near New Harmony, south of Cedar City, has destroyed 1 home so far and 7 other structures, forced the evacuation of about 40 homes, numerous farm animals, and led to the closure of I-15 between Cedar City and St. George.

One can scarcely venture outdoors from one end of the state to another without detecting the haze and scent of wildfires. The latest fire break out is near New Harmony, just south of Cedar City.

Nick Howell, from the Interagency Fire Center in Cedar City insists that the extraordinary conditions call for extraordinary precautions:

Better safe than sorry says the U.S. Forest Service. The agency has temporarily closed the popular Oak Grove Campground north of St. George in the Dixie National Forest because of extreme fire danger. A major factor in the move is accessibility. There is only one road in and out of the area and a wildfire could easily cut off campers from their only escape.

Despite a statewide red flag alert, the service also reports that firefighters have extinguished several abandoned campfires in the area near the campground in the past week.

The Forest Service calls the move a "proactive approach to safeguard the public during these extremely dry conditions."

The Quail Fire that burned over 1700 acres of Washington County near Leeds was fully contained Monday after burning throughout the weekend. The fire was human caused and started on Saturday afternoon.

Residents of the 60 homes evacuated have been allowed to return, I-15 flows uninterrupted again in both directions, and power has been reestablished to the 600 homes affected at the height of the crisis over the weekend.

KJ Harrison attended Snow Canyon High School in St. George and was on a trip with other area scouts to Mooney Falls in the Havasupai Indian Reservation inside the Grand Canyon.

According to a press release by the Coconino County Sheriffs' Office, the boy was swimming in an area under the falls when he was pulled beneath the surface by an undercurrent.

It took some time for fellow swimmers to bring him to the surface. CPR was administered for an extended period of time, but proved unsuccessful in resuscitating the boy.

A Mesquite police officer conducting a routine traffic stop observed suspicious behavior and indications of criminal activity in 2 southern Utah men during a routine traffic stop. The officer deployed the newest member of the Mesquite Police Department, Noro the K-9.

Noro immediately alerted the officer to the presence of drug odor, confirming the officer's suspicions. Upon a search of the vehicle, police located just over 8 grams of methamphetamine. The 2 men, both of La Verkin, Utah, were arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and felony drug trafficking.

The bust came before Noro was even formally introduced to the Force.

Ken Lund / Creative Commons

A complaint from a European tourist visiting Zion National Park prompted a state audit of the Springdale Police Department. The tourist claimed that after receiving a citation, she was told she needed to pay the fine immediately, and in cash.

That practice violates state law. The concern is that officers could conceivably write citations, collect cash, destroy the documents, and keep the cash. Of the 423 citations issued from January 2011 to January 2012, the audit found that 1/3 were missing from the town's records.

In all, the White Rock Wildfire charred over 6,200 acres of both public and private land in steep rugged terrain along the Utah-Nevada Border and claimed the lives of two heavy air tanker pilots.

Incident commander John Kidd reported over the weekend that the fire had been 100% contained but clean up continues and the flight data recorder from the tanker that went down a week ago Sunday, killing both crew members, has been recovered.

A single-engine plane crash over the Memorial Day weekend claimed the live of 4 young men in their 20s. There were no eyewitnesses to the crash, nor were there any airport personnel on duty.

The crash occurred around 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning, but was not discovered until St. George Municipal Airport workers arrived at 6:00 a.m. The Cessna 172 went down 300 feet south of the airport runway. It is not known whether the plan crashed upon take-off or landing.

Life is just getting back to normal in the small Southern Utah town of Kanarraville -- population 355 -- after it hosted upwards of 15,000 people for Sunday's annular solar eclipse.

The small Iron County town sits right in the heart of the annular path, called the "sweet spot", guaranteeing a perfect Ring of Fire for 4 minutes on Sunday night.

Photo courtesy of nps.gov

A new museum collection at Zion National Park chronicles the contributions of the men of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Pictures, writings, and special objects in the collection provide opportunities for visitors to gain first-hand knowledge of the work and lives of the men of the CCC.

During their 9 years working in Zion, they built and improved many of the park's trails, created parking areas, fought fires, eradicated invasive plants, help build campgrounds, built park buildings, and reduced flooding on the Virgin River.

Photo by Mike Keller on 1-15-09, courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

A new study employing the cooperation of BYU and Utah State University researchers and state biologists proposes to answer the question just how many mule deer fawns each year are lost to coyotes.

http://www.nps.gov/brca/naturescience/upd.htm

A Wall Street Journal article published today introduces an issue Southern Utahns have dealt with for 40 years to a national audience. The article documents the trouble some Utahns have experienced ever since the Utah prairie dog landed on the endangered species list.

Friday May 4, Southern Utah University conducts its 113th annual commencement. Every graduating class, of course, has its valedictorian, the SUU class of 2012 is no exception, but its valedictorian is…  exceptional in every sense of the word.

Gwen Knight graduates with a degree in psychology, having maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout her academic career at SUU. And that while working fulltime as directing case coordinator with the Utah court-appointed special advocate program and juggling her duties as a mother of 11 and grandmother of 22.

For the second time in two days a human-caused wildfire has erupted in southern Utah—this time just west of St. George in an area called Anasazi valley.

The fire is on mostly public land west of St. George, and south of old Highway 91.

The fire started on Wednesday around 3:30 in the afternoon. Like the Toquerville fire there is not threat to structures. The Anasazi valley fire has not yet been mapped for its size.

Utah's Washington County has joined Mohave County, Arizona and other Uranium mining concerns in filing a lawsuit against the Federal Government.

The lawsuit is directed against Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the Department of Interior, the BLM and BLM Director Robert Abbey.

It calls for the reversal of Salazar's 20-year ban on new mining claims in one-million acres of public land adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park, announced in January.

Pages