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Wildfire forces evacuations near Vernal


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MAESER, Uintah County — A wildfire forced at least one neighborhood in Maeser to evacuate and state Route 121 to close temporarily Friday afternoon, according to Uintah County Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Fletcher.

Residents in the Yellow Hill subdivision were evacuated as a fire burned 5 miles west of Vernal along state Route 121, Fletcher said. The evacuation was lifted late Friday night. Residents in the Painted Hills subdivision were put on notice and residents told that they may need to evacuate later.

More than 1000 acres had burned as of late Friday night, according to a tweet from Utah Fire Info. The fire most likely began along state Route 121, according to Uintah Basin Interagency Fire Center spokesman Don Jaques. The cause of the fire was unknown as of late Friday evening.

Reports of the fire began coming in late Friday afternoon. As of 5 p.m., residents of up to 150 homes had been told to be ready to evacuate if necessary, according to Pat Malan, from the Utah Red Cross.

The fire burned an area with sagebrush and juniper, and the strong wind was helping it spread.

The fire had not damaged any structures as of Friday, but people were being asked to avoid the area as firefighters and emergency personnel worked to contain the blaze, according to Jacques. State Route 121 was closed for a short time but reopened shortly before 7 p.m.

The Utah Red Cross opened an evacuation center for affected residents at Vernal Middle School, located at 721 W. 100 South.

Fire affecting roadway
Both Directions SR 121 at MP 35 (5 Mi W of Vernal) Uintah Co.
Est. Clearance Time: 6:35 PM

— UDOT Traffic (@UDOTTRAFFIC) June 9, 2017

> BREAKING: Fire burning west of Maeser along SR 121. Residents of the Yellow Hill subdivision have been ordered to evacuate. 📸: Lehvi Watson [pic.twitter.com/ZQeG5zpons](https://t.co/ZQeG5zpons) > > — KSL (@KSLcom) [June 9, 2017](https://twitter.com/KSLcom/status/873283570151772160)

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

____

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story indicated that 150 homes in the area had been evacuated. Officials later said residents in 150 homes had been told to be ready to evacuate if necessary. This story has been updated to reflect this correction.

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