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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Although one prescribed burn got out of control this week, more controlled fires are being carried out in northern Utah.
The Uinta National Forest fire was started Tuesday to burn 600 acres of mountain brush near Cascade Springs off the Alpine Loop. Unexpected winds came up and blew embers outside the intended burn area. As of Thursday night, the fire had burned about 4,500 acres.
Bob Tonioli, fire management officer for the Northern Region of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, said it was a case study in how things can go wrong, despite the best of plans.
Tonioli said the Forest Service had plenty of people and equipment on hand, but they weren't enough when the fire got out of control.
Tonioli said planned burns, which are intended to reduce the danger of wildfire, follow strict rules for staffing, weather and how to burn the area. Fire lines are cut around the area before the burn, and small backfires are lit along those lines to blacken them for as much as 30 feet deep, so when the main fire is lit it can' spread.
"I was there when they lit the first drip torch in a test fire, and all they were doing was lighting along the Cascade Springs oiled road to blacken it along the road so we had a larger fire break," he said. "And the winds just turned and went 180 degrees in the opposite direction."
Winds had been predicted to be 8 to 10 miles per hour, but instead gusted to 20 or more, he said.
Tonioli said there is no plan to delay fires near Logan or near Monte Cristo because nothing has changed. The Ashley National Forest conducted a successful prescribed burn near Dutch John on Wednesday, and the Caribou-Targhee National Forest conducted a successful one near Montpelier, Idaho.
Tonioli said some people have asked why the Forest Service is conducting planned burns despite conditions being so dry after five years of drought.
The simple answer, he said, is that now is when things will burn.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)