Officials: Santaquin Canyon fire human-caused; 5 percent of blaze contained

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SANTAQUIN — The wildfire raging in Santaquin Canyon is human-caused and was actively burning about 340 acres Tuesday afternoon, fire officials said.

Investigators are still trying to determine who may have caused the fire and how, said Jason Curry, spokesman for Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. There is no set timeline for when that investigation will conclude, he said.

About 40 firefighters, five engine trucks and three helicopters were deployed to the scene of the blaze on Tuesday morning. The fire was just 5 percent contained late Tuesday afternoon, said Reid Shelley, assistant fire manager for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Crews hoped to contain 15 percent of the fire by the end of Tuesday and contain it entirely by Thursday, Shelley said.

The fire was about a mile from the nearest Santaquin homes on Tuesday. Firefighters are concrned about a thunderstorm poised to roll through the area on Wednesday, Shelley said, because such a storm can bring with it unpredictable winds that fan the blaze.

On Tuesday, however, cooler temperatures and low winds provided good firefighting conditions. Firefighters busied themselves establishing fire lines and looking for hot spots.

Officials estimated Monday night that the fire had reached 450 acres, but said a mapping of the area Tuesday showed it to be significantly smaller.

Shortly after the fire ignited, Santaquin police warned residents to prepare in case evacuations were necessary. Residents were also told to stay away from Santaquin Canyon.

Several fire agencies from Utah County are assisting crews from the Uintah Wasatch Cache National Forest and Santaquin Fire Department.

Contributing: Nkoyo Iyamba, Alex Cabrero

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