Calming winds help crews gain ground on wildfires

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Slightly cooler and calmer conditions were helpful Tuesday for crews fighting two major fires--the Mill Flat Fire and the West Scofield Fire, both of which are 10 percent contained.

The West Scofield Fire has burned more than 250 acres and threatens dozens of homes that are still evacuated.

While crews fight it from the air and on the ground, responders at the Interagency Fire Center in Moab keep an eye on the weather and how it might affect firefighting efforts.

"We've been very busy," said spokeswoman Karen Feary.

Feary says the weather helped, and if the wind stays down firefighters think they could soon have it under control soon.

"We have a large number of resources right now on the fire, making sure that the perimeter between the houses and the fire are well established," Feary said.

Meanwhile, the Mill Flat fire is still burning in Washington County. It's already burned over 11,000 acres and destroyed homes and buildings.

Crews made good progress Tuesday and say they're confident the community of New Harmony is secure from the threat of an uncontrolled fire.

Evacuations have been lifted, but a one-hour alert for emergency evacuation is still in effect. Firefighters say it could take another 10 days to put the fire out.

Weather conditions weren't so good for crews fighting the Sawmill Canyon Fire, located just south of Scipio. Winds picked up Tuesday afternoon, and the fire jumped Highway 50, burned some power poles and grounded crews fighting from the air.

Residents statewide are breathing in smoke from both of those fires. Forecasters expect more bad air to come, so people with health problems should reduce physical and outdoor activities.

In all, crews are battling 17 wildfires across the state.



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Courtney Orton


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