Fire crews stop grass fire from reaching Eureka

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UTAH COUNTY -- Fire crews made great progress in stopping a fast-moving fire Wednesday afternoon near the town of Eureka in Juab County. It forced Highway 6 to be closed for a time and threatened the community and a mine.

The fire had the potential to be very serious. In fact, around 5 p.m., residents of Eureka were wondering if they were going to be forced out. But by nightfall, the fire was nearly out, the smoke is gone and people were breathing a sigh of relief.

The fire moved fast and the flames were intense. It's didn't take long for Eureka residents like Debi Fuell to start thinking about preparing for an evacuation.

"We've been lucky so far this year. We have been knocking on wood, hoping we wouldn't get anything this year, but we are ready to run if we need to--at least my family is," Fuell said.

Local firefighters prevented the flames from jumping Highway 6 and burning to the north, but the wind quickly sent the fire out of control.

"When we got on site, it was only about an acre, and we were ready to reposition. And when we turned around it was 100 yards down the creek, going like crazy," said Eureka Mayor Milt Hanks.

Not only did firefighters on the ground start building line, but they got some air support from helicopters making water drops. And the arrival of an air tanker helped to create a fire line on the steep ridge.

Fire investigators have focused in on an area not far from the highway as the ignition point and believe the fire was caused by an electrical problem.

"There was a small pump house near the origin of the fire. They traced back and found a fuse popped on one of the lines. As they continue to investigate that, it is probably going to be confirmed. They have eliminated all other causes and gone with electrical," said Jason Curry, with the Division of Forestry and Fire.

As the flames began to die and smoke began to clear, people in Eureka knew they had escaped the threat of another summer fire burning too close to their homes.

"Our wind blows through this gulch, and it will shift on you really quick; so we had to make sure we had suppression on this side. The incident commanders did an awesome job. I can't say enough about our firefighters," Hanks said.

The fire has burned about 300 acres so far. An engine crew will remain on the scene overnight in case the fire picks up, and crews will work to get it completely contained Thursday.



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