Fires on Many Fronts in Utah

Fire in Uintah County grew to over 800 acres

 

MARJORIE CORTEZ, Deseret Morning News

SALT LAKE CITY – Fires fanned by winds and aided by low humidity burned in several parts of Utah on Saturday. The National Weather Service’s “red flag” warnings for the Uinta Basin, San Rafael Swell and other areas suggest conditions are ripe for more blazes.

A “red flag” warning is issued when strong winds, relatively low humidity and high temperatures can contribute to “extreme fire behavior,” according to the National Weather Service.

A sizable wildfire that started Friday along state Route 12 near Maeser in Uintah County grew to some 885 acres and was being investigated as “human-caused,” according to U.S. Forest Service fire information officer Don Jaques.

“The weather is certainly not on our side,” Jaques said Saturday, also noting the prematurely tinder-dry vegetation that fueled the blaze.

About 150 homes in two subdivisions were temporarily evacuated Friday, and residents were told to be prepared in the event of another evacuation order.

While it is early in the fire season, Jaques warned Utahns, “as we have these drying conditions, individuals need to be very cautious with anything that might start a spark or any kind of ignition source.”

Elsewhere, two fires were burning Saturday near Pine Valley, 20 miles southwest of Cedar City. Both remain under investigation. The Grass Valley fire burned approximately 13 acres and is about 90 percent contained, officials said. The fire is burning Pinyon juniper, brush and grasses.

A firefighter experienced a heat-related illness and was flown to a hospital for treatment. The firefighter was responding well to treatment, according to a news release.

The North Fire, about 2 miles from other blaze, has charred about 500 acres. No structures were threatened. Crews have been able to contain 5 percent of the fire perimeter.

In northern Utah, a crew of about 85 firefighters continued to fight a fire near Willard in Box Elder County that was started by a downed power line Friday night. The fire was 75 percent contained by late Saturday, burning 211 acres.

Box Elder County fire information officer Mitch Zundel said crews were hoping to have full containment by tonight.

Zundel said at least one unauthorized drone flew over firefighters Saturday, which is a misdemeanor offense in Utah.

Crews in Box Elder County were also busy fighting a wildfire of unknown origin along I-15 near Portage on Saturday afternoon.

The fire, some 50 acres in size, started shortly after noon and was fanned by winds up to 20 mph, Zundel said. It was not threatening any structures.

Fourteen firefighters from Box Elder County, Portage, Plymouth and the U.S. Forest Service from Pocatello were working the fire.

Contributing: Geoff Liesik

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com

Copyright © 2017 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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