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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Firefighters have gained on the Uinta National Forest Cascade II fire, which is 70 percent contained.
Steve Ritchie, fire information officer for the Uinta National Forest, said the fire was expected to be 100 percent contained by late Tuesday.
"The firefighters have really made terrific progress, and we are really optimistic at this point in time," he said Friday.
The fire ignited Tuesday following a 600-acre prescribed burn by the Forest Service in the Cascade Springs area. The Forest Service said the fire leaped out of control when 25-mph winds carried embers past the Cascade Springs road and the break line. It has consumed nearly 7,800 acres.
More than 500 firefighters battled the blaze Saturday, using six helicopters and a seventh "sky crane" helicopter, especially equipped to haul large amounts of water.
Unlike other helicopters, which have been dipping buckets of up to 800 gallons of water out of Deer Creek Reservoir and then dumping them on the fire, the sky crane helicopter hovers above the reservoir, using a tube to fill a 1,500-gallon tank built into the body of the aircraft.
"Boy, it can lift a lot of water, so it can dump massive amounts," Ritchie said. "They used it all day."
Fire officials expected to be able to keep the sky crane throughout the day Sunday. Air tankers, which had been used to drop retardant on the blaze but were no longer needed, were released for use in other areas on Saturday, Ritchie said.
No serious injuries to firefighters were reported, though some had experienced bee stings but had immediately returned to work, he said.
The cost of fighting the blaze as of Saturday night was just over $1 million.
When 100 percent containment is reached, fire crews will concentrate on dousing islands of fire and hot spots within the burn perimeter, he said. Once the blaze is thought to be out, officials will continue to check the area until significant rainfall or snow cover is achieved.
"With a fire this big, you can have roots that smolder underground for weeks and then pop up and start a fire in a vegetation island," Ritchie said. "We will have people checking it on a regular basis even though firefighters will not be stationed in the area."
The Forest Service has established a Web site and a phone number where concerned residents can call for up-to-the-minute information. The fire information number is (435) 654-9787.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)