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WASHINGTON — A new bill proposed by Rep. John Curtis on Friday would name a mountain peak where the Bald Mountain Fire stalled in September, sparing homes in Utah County.
Curtis proposed H.R. 7090, or the “Miracle Mountain Designation Act,” which would name a previously unnamed peak between Elk Ridge and where the Bald Mountain Fire was burning in southeastern Utah County “Miracle Mountain.”
“Suddenly, the fire halted its progression and, instead of burning into Elk Ridge City, stayed behind the mountain and spared the city,” Curtis wrote in the bill. “Congress, in acknowledgment of this event, believes this mountain holds special significance to the residents of Elk Ridge City and surrounding communities.”
The lightning-caused Bald Mountain Fire sparked on Aug. 24 and began to threaten homes in September. Elk Ridge and Woodland Hills residents were evacuated on Sept. 13 as the fire began to spread.
Winds shifted before the fire reached homes in the valley and no homes were destroyed. The Bald Mountain Fire, which burned 18,620 acres, or a little more than 29 square miles, was 100 percent contained on Oct. 2. The Pole Creek Fire burned another 102,190 acres to the east of the Bald Mountain Fire.
Curtis' bill, which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, is co-sponsored by Utah’s three other representatives: Rob Bishop, who is also the chairman of the committee, Mia Love and Chris Stewart.
It also has the support of Gov. Gary Herbert and other local officials. Elk Ridge Mayor Ty Ellis wrote in a statement that he reached out to Curtis about naming the peak after he drove through the city the day after the fire moved behind the mountain, and he saw that the homes were still standing.
"The morning after the fire went behind this mountain, I knew we had witnessed a miracle," Ellis wrote in the statement. "It truly is our 'Miracle Mountain.'"
Herbert penned a letter to Curtis about the bill, noting that it highlighted a positive moment during “our most destructive wildfire season the past decade.”
“That sudden change in weather conditions, as well as the tireless and courageous work of our firefighters, was nothing short of a miracle for the residents of Elk Ridge and Woodland Hills,” Herbert wrote. “Naming the mountain ‘Miracle Mountain’ is a fitting gesture of gratitude.”
In all, there were more than 1,300 wildfires that blackened more than 485,000 acres in Utah in 2018, according to Utah Division of Forestry, Fires and State Lands data. Those fires burned dozens of homes and resulted in more than $100 million in cost.