WILDFIRES

Crews Battle Several Wildfires Across Utah, Evacuations Lifted For East Canyon Fire

Jun 9, 2021, 12:42 PM | Updated: 10:04 pm
An air tanker drops retardant on the East Canyon Fire. (Mike Anderson/KSL TV)...
An air tanker drops retardant on the East Canyon Fire. (Mike Anderson/KSL TV)
(Mike Anderson/KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — Crews are battling fires across Utah as a red flag warning remained in effect for the vast majority of the state Wednesday.

Among those fires was the East Canyon Fire, which forced the evacuation of multiple Morgan County homes Tuesday.

Kait Webb, statewide prevention and fire communications coordinator, said they’ve already seen 326 wildfires, and 90% (294) of those fires were human-caused.

At this time last year, only 88 wildfires had been reported and 75 of them were human-caused.

“You know we are here in June, what will it be like in August, September?” asked Kayli Yardley with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

She explained that it’s unlikely Utah will be in the position to help other states this summer with fires if these drought conditions persist.

“We need to make sure we are taking care of fire prevention where we can so our firefighters can have a little bit of breath and fresh air to get a break,” Yardley said.

Other states could be dealing with the same drought and fire conditions which means they may not be able to here in Utah if needed.

Fire Restrictions

On Wednesday the State of Utah, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands ordered stage 1 fire restrictions for all State Lands and all private lands outside of city/town borders beginning at midnight. 

Stage 1 restrictions include a ban on open flames, smoking, and other jobs like welding and cutting metal which could spark a fire. 

 “As we’ve seen these most recent wildfires, it is clear that fire danger is higher than in any year in recent memory,” said Interim Division Director, Jamie Barnes, “Although it’s unprecedented and comes earlier than any time in the past several years, it’s absolutely necessary now because current conditions are more indicative of what we’d see during late summer months.”  

Bear Fire

Crews responded to a new fire near U.S. Highway 6 and Price Canyon in Carbon County on Tuesday.

The Bear Fire has burned an estimated 3,500 acres as of Wednesday afternoon, and its cause is under investigation.

“It was definitely burning through the night,” Type 3 Incident Commander Jason Porter said. “After our flight, we are seeing some good options, some opportunities to get in there and slow the fire’s progress.”

State fire officials reminded drivers to not stop along U.S. 6 to take photos and asked the public to avoid unnecessary travel through the area.

“It’s burning like what we would expect in our peak season, which would be mid-July,” Porter said. “This kind of fire behavior is about a month early for us. It’s burning through north slopes that should still be wet right now.” 

The fire is being fought by crews from the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands and the Helper Fire Department.

One helicopter has been assigned to the fire, and crews are sharing resources with teams at the nearby Bennion Creek Fire.

Mammoth Creek Fire

Crews said they made good progress on the Mammoth Creek Fire, which was 14% contained and estimated at just over 700 acres.

Firefighters planned to use water drops to mop up the fire line and extinguish any pockets of heat to protect the Mammoth Creek and Tommy Creek subdivisions, which are located about 20 miles east of Cedar City.

The fire was caused by lightning and 282 personnel, six crews, 24 engines, two water tenders, one dozer and four helicopters have been assigned to the fire.

East Canyon Fire

This Morgan County fire was 45% contained and estimated at 835 acres Wednesday. Crews said fire activity was calm overnight.

Evacuations were lifted and state Route 66 reopened. Hiking trails in the area are closed.

East Canyon State Park remains open but visitors must use S.R. 65 to access the lake.

Officials said the fire was started by a Dominion Energy crew using heavy equipment in the area.

Bennion Creek Fire

This fire, burning in southern Utah County, was estimated at 1,471 acres and 25% containment Wednesday evening.

“The wildfire is burning in very remote, rugged terrain,” state fire officials said. “That terrain, coupled with current red flag conditions, is making containment efforts challenging.”

It was sparked by natural causes.

Bennion Ridge Road, Forest Road 0008, and Starvation Road are closed due to the fire.

Pack Creek Fire

The Pack Creek Fire sparked Wednesday evening in San Juan County on the Manti-La Sal National Forest south of Moab. It is estimated at 120 acres. The cause is under investigation.

Fire officials say Wednesday night that winds have shifted, driving the fire down the canyon. They say multiple structures are threatened. They say the fire behavior is extreme, forcing ground crews to disengage.

Fire officials originally said the fire was threatening one structure and a Forest Service campground. Officials have since said the fire is moving away from structures and no evacuations have been ordered.

KSL 5 TV Live

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Crews Battle Several Wildfires Across Utah, Evacuations Lifted For East Canyon Fire