Once a prescribed burn, Trail Mountain Fire now state’s largest wildfire
Jun 13, 2018, 7:55 PM | Updated: 9:42 pm
HUNTINGTON, Utah – The Trail Mountain Fire in Emery County continues to grow in and around Huntington Canyon.
The fire started as a prescribed burn last Monday, but it jumped the fire lines a week ago. It has grown to be the largest fire in the state, and firefighters said the weather over the next few days could be a big problem.
“There’s a couple of very concerning days ahead of us,” said Jesse Bender, spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management.
Winds last week fanned the flames of a prescribed burn into the wildfire that was just 10 percent contained Wednesday night.
Winds have intensified the fire. Flames and thick smoke were visible in Huntington Canyon from the fire that has grown to more than 7,100 acres.
At least one cabin and another building have been destroyed.
“The fire is moving very quickly, burning more severely through the timber,” said Bender.
It was burning slower in the aspen groves.
“The severity of it isn’t extreme through the whole fire area,” she said. “Even though we’ve got these 7,000 acres that are burned. It doesn’t mean that every foot of that 7,000 acres is burned.”
High winds forecasted for Thursday and single-digit humidity could lead to a red flag warning, she said.
“It’s one thing to have it be hot, but calm. It’s another thing when you have hot, dry, and windy,” said Bender. “The more of those critical weather factors that concur, the worse it makes the conditions for us.”
Friday may bring dry thunderstorms before the possibility of rain this weekend.
“We’re really looking at these next couple of days as very, very critical,” she said. “The work that we can accomplish ahead of the thunderstorms and really hope that the rain will assist us.”
A regional Type-2 fire management team has arrived to relieve local resources.
“The initial incident has depleted their resources. There’s just too much going on for the local folks to be able to handle independently without bringing in additional help,” Bender said. “It brings an added level of expertise to the incident.”
Crews were fighting the fire with 5 helicopters (2 more on the way), 11 engines, and more than 250 firefighters. They worked to keep the fire away from private property and a lot of infrastructure.
“We have major power lines. We have coal, and natural gas,” said Bender. “We have watershed. We have water supply. All are at risk.”
North Emery Water users have been told to conserve water because several springs have been compromised by the fire. The water in the system was safe, but reserves are low, so conservation is critical.