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Lightning starts new fire in Tooele County

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TOOELE — A fire started by lightning Wednesday had burned 150 acres by 10 a.m. Thursday morning in the Oquirrh Mountains of Tooele County.

This fire started around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday as the result of a lighting strike. North Tooele County Fire Chief Randy Wilden said he heard the impact of the lighting, then a few minutes later calls started coming in about the fire it had started.

When firefighters arrived on scene the fire already covered a couple of acres due to 25-30 mile per hour winds. It was spreading quickly north and up the hill. Fortunately, the winds then subsided.

Firefighters say the closest homes to the fire are a couple of miles away, so evacuations are not necessary at this time, and no other structures are threatened. Last night their main concern was a Rocky Mountain Power line in the area, but as the fire has spread up the slope, their concern has shifted to communication towers about a mile northeast of the blaze.

"It runs the entire length of Tooele County," Wilden said. "We believe it's quite a bit further down the hill from where that fire's actually at. We do have a pump station on the hill and a water tank, but we think they're actually further south."

It appears the fire is burning towards the ridge in mostly sagebrush, but as a precaution crews are creating a fire break at the bottom of the mountain.

"Our biggest obstacle right now is two-fold: one is resources and two is location," said Fire Manager Officer for the Wasatch Front Allen Briggs. "There's quite a few fires going on right now in Northern Utah, so competition for resources is high, and then the terrain itself is going to be a challenge for us."

Six volunteer firefighters kept an eye on the fire overnight, and 60 crews were expected to arrive within the hour, among them, a Type 2 hand crew and a helicopter crew. The fire cannot be accessed by truck, and firefighters on-scene are in a holding pattern until other crews arrive.


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