Wildfires rage across Utah, threaten communities

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SALT LAKE CITY — As six wildfires burn across Utah Monday morning, Gov. Gary Hebert has called in the National Guard, and a firefighting crew from Delaware is headed to Utah to help battle wildfires.

The Bureau of Land Management said Monday that three of the six fires burning in Utah weren't too large, but the fire burning at the Utah and Idaho border was threatening neighboring communities.

State Fire

As of Monday morning, the State Fire was 38 percent contained and had burned over 11,000 acres. This was the first time this year that the governor has called for the Guard to help out. A team of 20 wildland firefighters trained under the Delaware Forest Service was also scheduled to board a flight Monin the Skull Valley area of Tooele County day morning in Harrisburg, Pa., bound for Salt Lake City to help.

More than 200 people were working to stop the fire from spreading to the neighboring communities. They were using bulldozers, shovels, fire engines and helicopters. Two National Guard Blackhawk helicopters have been dispatched to help out.

Patch Springs Fire


The Patch Springs Fire was burning rapidly and out of control in the Skull Valley area of Tooele County Monday because of high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds. The fire had burned over 6,800 acres by Monday afternoon.

The blaze crested over the mountain towards Tooele and was heading towards the Goshute Indian Reservation. 12 homes, five commercial properties and five sheds were threatened by the fire, but none were evacuated as of Monday evening.

"(They're) continuing to try and do what they can to stop (the fire) from growing," said Joanna Wilson from the BLM.

The BLM also said the strategy for Monday was to secure the south end of the fire line to prevent it from moving towards Terra and the Indian Reservation. They added three additional fire engines and a helicopter to assist in these efforts. A DC-10 also flew in and dropped 11,000 gallons on the fire.

Roads near the fire were closed, but Skull Valley road remained open. The fire was only five percent contained as of Monday night.

Elk Complex Fire

The Elk Complex Fire was started by lightning, and has spread so much that the fire is currently considered the number one priority in the nation. The fire has burned over 125 square miles near the Idaho towns Pine and Featherville.

Both towns are under mandatory evacuation order, but some residents chose to stay and monitor their property. Authorities had to force some residents to leave.

The fire is currently only five percent contained.

Millville Fire

A red flag warning was issued Monday afternoon in Cache County due to gusty winds and dry lightning, as crews battled a thriving wildfire.

In Cache County, crews were fighting the Millville Fire that had already scorched about 2,000 acres and it was still growing. Millville Canyon was closed Monday.

General location of Patch Springs Fire (Map: Utah Fire Info)
General location of Patch Springs Fire (Map: Utah Fire Info)

The BLM said a fire in Tooele County grew from roughly 30 acres to 3,000 within eight hours.

Other fires

In Spanish Fork, the Third Water Fire had burned about 100 acres by Monday morning. The fire was subdued by precipitation in the area, and crews were able to contain the fire to a small area between Third Water and Fourth Water creeks, east of Ray's Valley Road on the Spanish Fork Ranger District.

Forest Service Road 70258, the Great Western Trail, Fourth Water Trail and the Third Water Trail were all closed due to the fire.

Grace Fire, 12 miles north of Escalante in the Dixie National Forest, had burned 200 acres by Monday.

Lightning sparked the Mount Elmer Fire Friday in the Mount Naomi Wilderness. The fire has only burned 6 acres. Though it was being monitored, no resources have been put on the fire, the US Forest Service said Monday.

Last year, Utah had three big fires that the National Guard helped with, but for this late in the fire season, the BLM said it was very unusual to put them into action.

Contributing: Andrew Adams and Associated Press

Video Contributing: Mike Anderson


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