WILDFIRES

Utah Governor Meets With Pole Creek, Bald Mountain Fire Response Team

Sep 14, 2018, 7:57 PM | Updated: 9:16 pm

SALEM, Utah – Utah Governor Gary Herbert spoke to members of the media after meeting with officials organizing the response to the Pole Creek and Bald Mountain Fires on the south side of Utah County.

The fires have consumed 68,347 acres as of Friday evening. Mandatory evacuations were ordered Thursday night after officials said the fire was threatening homes.

“As you know, it’s large,” Gov. Herbert said of the fire. “It has the potential to burn a lot more, and be a very bad fire – particularly when it comes to structures.”

The governor echoed officials’ comments from the last two days about the proximity of the fire to homes.

“We have a lot of structures in the pathway of the fire, and that could be very, very devastating if we can’t contain it,” he said.

A Type 1 fire response team has been put into place on the fires, which have become the top priority in the United States.

“These two fires are number one and number two in the nation, as far as resource priority,” said Jason Curry, spokesperson for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands. “Be assured that the resources are not only here, but also on the way.”

Officials said it was likely the two fires would combine into one very large fire.

“We have about 437 personnel now on the ground… but we’re going to build that and get to about 1,000, maybe more,” the governor said.

Additional aircraft were also being brought in to fight the fire from the air.

Gov. Herbert said the location of the fire made it difficult to fight from the air, especially with the lack of visibility caused by all the smoke.

“It’s a very tough terrain. This is a hard fire to fight,” he said.

There have been questions about the initial response to the fire, which was much smaller until strong winds moved into the area, spreading the flames quickly.

“Hindsight is always 20-20. It’s easy to look back and say we should have done something different,” said Gov. Herbert. “There’s going to be time for us to analyze this… I think there are things that can be done better, but it’s not time to finger point today. The thing we need to concentrate on it, let’s get the fire out. Let’s protect the properties and the people, and their assets.”

The county planned to issue a disaster declaration Saturday to help get access to additional fire resources.

“This is a bad fire, and it has the potential to become even worse,” said Gov. Herbert.

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Utah Governor Meets With Pole Creek, Bald Mountain Fire Response Team