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Rain Helps Curb Utah Wildfires

Rain Helps Curb Utah Wildfires

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Firefighters have central Utah's Salt Creek fire 50 percent contained.

A wave of summer rainstorms dropped about an inch of rain on the fire burning about 85 miles south of Salt Lake City. The fire, which destroyed a private campground and a small motel, started July 19 and has burned about 39 square miles east of Nephi and across two counties.

On Friday crews were focused on putting out hot spots, strengthening liens around the fire and mopping up in burned areas, a fire information officer said.

State Route 132 was open, but several other area roads remained closed, including part of the Nebo Loop National Scenic Byway.

Along with the Milford Flat and Neola North fires, the Salt Creek fire has contributed to an estimated loss of 450,000 acres of public and private range land, state and federal officials reported.

Some 90 farmers and ranchers have been affected, with about 200 cattle and 70 sheep killed. Another 7,000 cattle will need new land to graze.

At a news conference, state Agriculture and Food Commissioner Leonard Blackham said Gov. Jon Huntsman will seek a federal-disaster designation for 25 of 29 counties.

Farmers and ranchers can get help through a variety of federal programs, including low-interest loans, access to grazing land, soil stabilization and livestock compensation.

"We do not make producers whole. Our programs are designed to bridge the gap," said Bruce Richeson, in charge of the Utah office of the federal Farm Service Agency. "There are some ranchers and farmers who are going to have to make some very tough decisions."

Elsewhere, a fire burning in and around Zion National Park is 98 percent contained, with full containment expected this weekend.

In northern Utah's Box Elder County, the Winecup fire burning on the Utah-Nevada border is 65 percent contained. Triggered by lightning July 20, the fire has burned about 253 square miles.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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