June 24, 2005

Fires burn in Mojave National Preserve

Desert Dispatch [Barstow, CA]

About 250 firefighters are battling four fires, one of them encompassing 8,000 acres, on sparsely populated national parklands east of Barstow.

Lightning started the fires in the Mojave National Preserve Wednesday, preserve ranger Linda Slater said. It could take several days to contain the fires, she said.

As of early Thursday evening, there had been no evacuations, but cabins in the Round Valley might need to be need to be evacuated, Slater said. Roughly 40 cabins are there, about a dozen of them occupied, she said.

The fires are a little more than 100 miles from Barstow.

The largest fire is in the Hackberry Mountains, about 15 miles north of Interstate 40, west of Ivanpah Road.

The other fires are in the heart of the preserve along Black Canyon Road north of the Mitchell Caverns and south of Cedar Canyon Road.

Two of them burning between Black Canyon Road and Wild Horse Canyon Road could merge together, Slater said.

A fifth fire that had started Wednesday had been extinguished by Thursday evening.

Among the agencies working to fight the fires are the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service.

Tourists can still visit the preserve despite the fires, but Hole in the Wall and Mid Hills campgrounds are closed, and Black Canyon Road is closed.

Anyone planning to visit the preserve who needs information about how the fires might affect their trip can contact the preserve's Baker Information Center at (760) 733-4040.

The preserve encompasses about 1.6 million acres east of Barstow, most of it between Interstate 40 and Interstate 15.