Evacuations grow in Duchesne County amid rapidly-spreading Dollar Ridge Fire

Jul 3, 2018, 11:32 PM | Updated: Jul 4, 2018, 1:36 am

DUCHESNE COUNTY, Utah – Evacuations expanded to as many as 450 homes and cabins Tuesday as the Dollar Ridge Fire, once again fueled by high winds, far surpassed firefighters’ prior estimate of 30,000 acres.

Fire spokesman Jason Curry said crews had not yet been able to come up with a new acreage estimate as of late Tuesday, but evacuations extended north to U.S. 40, from Fruitland to Freedom Bridge.

“It’s difficult to watch homes burn,” Curry said. “It’s difficult to watch a part of people’s lives go up.”

Curry said “dozens” of homes, cabins and other structures had burned in the fire, though crews had yet to come up with an exact number.

Related: Uintah Basin community rallies around neighbors impacted by wildfires

Evacuations grow in Duchesne County amid rapidly-spreading Dollar Ridge Fire

Though firefighters were able to get close to the fire on the ground earlier in the day, Curry said high winds later forced ground crews to retreat.

At a view area west of Fruitland, J.D. Olsen said he had been watching the flames for hours as they came up over the ridgeline. He said a friend had a cabin at the top of the ridge.

“Dump it right on his cabin, please!” Olsen shouted as a helicopter, carrying water, passed near his friend’s place. “A little bit of water damage would be great right now.”

As of late Tuesday, the cabin remained, but Olsen said he was worried about embers that were visible in the surrounding trees.

Dollar Ridge Fire east of Strawberry Reservoir (Source: KSL TV)

“(I’m) thinking it’s too close for comfort,” Olsen said.

Tuesday evening as the fire advanced northward, firefighters evacuated a gas station and parking lot in Fruitland that had been used as a media briefing area.

“The area behind me was not under an evacuation order about 30 minutes ago, but now it is,” Curry said.

Olsen watched in disbelief as the smoke plumes seemed to grow.

“Just to watch all these structures on this side of the mountain — it’s going to be crazy!” Olsen said.

Firefighters urged evacuees in need of help to go to Duchesne High School.

Dollar Ridge Fire Tuesday night on 208 looking toward Highway 40. (Photo Courtesy: Aleesha Rhoades)

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Evacuations grow in Duchesne County amid rapidly-spreading Dollar Ridge Fire