Trooper enforcing road closure also has property in wildfire zone
FRUITLAND, Utah – U.S. Highway 40 remained closed for an almost 40-mile stretch between mile marker 50 and 85 in Duchesne after flames from the Dollar Ridge Fire jumped the highway Wednesday.
Deputies with the Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office allowed property owners to grab some last minute necessities Thursday morning, but the road was then closed indefinitely.
Sergeant Todd Hull with the Utah Highway Patrol spent much of the day at the roadblock in Duchesne. He worked as much as a tour guide, directing tourists trying to pass through, and a bearer of bad news, speaking with locals looking to check in on their properties.
Sgt. Hull understood the significance of the closure.
“With the commerce out here, with the oil, and with all the people living in these areas, it’s a huge impact,” he said. “A lot of the county lives, works, and recreates in the areas we have shut down.”
He felts the stress of the fire, as well. He also lives there.
“At one o’clock the winds pick up and it becomes unpredictable,” said Sgt. Hull. “I do have property out there, too, that I’m going to lose. It effects all of us the same.”
Resident Tom Giles was one of those who was able to check on his farm Thursday morning.
“I left last night and everything seemed like it was maybe going to be alright. Hopefully the best comes out of it,” he said.
While Giles could no longer return to the property, he hoped locals and tourists listen to troopers’ orders.
“I mean, they have enough to worry about. We don’t want them having to worry about anything more,” he said,
Like the travelers trying to pass through here, Sgt. Hull wished his community wasn’t in this situation either.
“It’s heartbreaking that you’re losing property and homes and animals in some cases, but we care about you, so…,” he said.
Fire officials have continuously monitored the Dollar Ridge Fire’s proximity to U.S. 40. In the meantime, drivers can take State Route 35 or U.S. Highway 191 as an alternate route.
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