Firefighters continue to battle Dollar Ridge Fire

Jul 2, 2018, 12:33 PM | Updated: 12:36 pm

STRAWBERRY RESERVOIR, Utah – The Dollar Ridge Fire, located about 4.5 miles southeast of Strawberry Reservoir, is considered the most complex wildfire currently burning in our state.

Fire spokesman Jason Curry, the public information officer for Utah Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands, says this is because of the steep terrain, fire behavior, fuels, the potential to threaten structures and the involvement of two counties in this big recreation area.

Curry says the fire was human-caused. Investigators continue to look into exactly what started it.

The fire began 4.5 miles southeast of Strawberry Reservoir and spread east into Duchesne County.

Folks in up to 10 structures in Beaver and Timber Canyons have been evacuated. Access into Camelot on the Strawberry River Road is closed, as is access into Timber Canyon from all directions. Folks at all homes and cabins in and downriver from Camelot have been given pre-evacuation notice.

Those living in homes on Currant Creek off of Highway 40 and all homes on west Pinyon Ridge have also received pre-evacuation notice. Highway 40, Pinnacles Road, and Strawberry Reservoir Recreation areas remain open. Check here for updates. (Attach this link: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/5881/43600/)

The fire sparked around 1 p.m. Sunday. Curry says the fire spread quickly in steep terrain and high winds. By the evening, it had grown to 6,600 acres.

He says initial crews tried to get some line around it but made very little progress given winds and steep terrain.

“We had a heli-attack crew that flew a crew right to the fire. They tried to get on it and they outfitted their helicopter to do bucket drops, but with fire behavior this extreme, those bucket drops were ineffective,” said Curry. One hundred firefighters worked hard Sunday.

Curry says the fire is zero percent contained at this point.

“Really this is going to go on for several days. We’ve ordered a Type-2 Incident Management team based on the analysis that we’ve done on this fire and all of its complexities. We know it’s going to be at least several days, if not more,” said Curry.

Longtime friends Kim Brown and Ken Allen were fishing when they saw the smoke. “It was crazy,” said Brown. “I was talking to the campground host and said ‘man, look at that fire.’ He said ‘I better go check on that,’” he said. The fishermen launched their boat from the Aspen Marina, the initial command headquarters, as crews got ready for another long day of firefighting. “Hopefully they’ll get it out. I don’t know how big it is. It can’t tell from where we’re at but we’ll keep an eye on it,” said Allen.

As people prepare for the Fourth of July, Curry says it’s a “good reminder for the public. We know this is a human-caused fire. We’re looking for any information that anyone might have to help us get to the bottom to what started it.”

Curry says this fire, like others, was absolutely avoidable. “It’s getting frustrating that we continue to go to these fires and find that they are human-caused. Right now 92 percent of all fires in Utah this year have been human-caused. They’ve all been preventable,” he said.

As for your celebrations, he warns, “Going into the Fourth of July Holiday, we want people to be really careful out there. Things are super dry. Much drier than in the last few years. Just help us out. Put those campfires out cold, be really careful with the fireworks and then secure your chains when you’re driving a trailer.”

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Firefighters continue to battle Dollar Ridge Fire