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Crews gain upper hand on blazes across Utah

Milder temperatures, rain, humidity bolster efforts over weekend

By Brian Skoloff

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Aug. 13 2012 9:39 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Firefighters made progress throughout the weekend on several blazes burning across the state as more mild temperatures coupled with sporadic rain and humidity helped bolster efforts at containment.

The lightning-sparked Faust Fire that had threatened a herd of wild horses and shut down the historic Pony Express Road in Utah's western desert was 85 percent contained on Monday, with full containment expected by the end of the day, said fire spokeswoman Cami Lee.

Nearly 200 firefighters had been working the blaze that had burned about 34 square miles, but that number will be reduced significantly throughout the day, Lee said.

Road closures around the area remained in effect as firefighters continued to put out hot spots.

"We just want to make sure those are out before people get out there to recreate," Lee said.

The fire forced no evacuations and no structures were burned.

The Pinyon Fire burning south of Salt Lake City was 100 percent contained Monday after burning about nine square miles, said Jason Curry, spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. No structures were destroyed.

Curry said the West Twin Peak Fire in central Utah also was nearly contained at 90 percent on Monday after burning about three square miles.

The Little Pine Fire in southern Utah, which burned about 3.5 square miles as of Monday afternoon, was at about 25 percent containment, he said.

The Seeley Fire in the Manti-LaSal National Forest remained the state's largest blaze while being 100 percent contained. The lightning-sparked fire has burned about 75 square miles in dense stands of beetle-killed spruce since June 26.

Curry said conditions statewide have grown more favorable for attacking new fires quickly, with more precipitation and humidity.

"We are getting wildfires on a daily basis, but most of them are getting caught small on the local level," Curry said.

He said conditions across Utah aren't as volatile as they were in early June when extremely dry weather caused fires to spread quickly.

"We're optimistic about the weather patterns staying the way they are, but it's anybody's guess," Curry said. "We do have a lot of fire season left, so the potential is there for more big fires."

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