DUCHESNE — Fire danger remained extreme in the mountains of eastern Utah Wednesday, as well as in other parts of the state where new wildfires popped up, threatening even more structures and homes.
• The approximate 850 residents of Oak City, Millard County, were under mandatory evacuation orders as a wildfire burned rapidly east of town. Two people were being treated at area hospitals for second-degree burns sustained from the 1,000-acre Clay Springs Fire.
• Further south, the hills east of New Harmony were ablaze Wednesday afternoon and homes were also being evacuated there. The fast-moving, human-caused New Harmony Fire has burned more than 30 acres, including one unoccupied structure and an abandoned vehicle, according to officials.
• High winds and temperatures throughout the state fueled the fires and helped to more than double the size of the Church Camp Fire burning across at least three canyons near Duchesne. Late Tuesday, the fire jumped to Indian Canyon and is threatening oil and gas wells near the bottom of the canyon.
"The initial contact has been made," said Peter Goetzinger, incident commander at the fire. "We know they need 24 hours to shut them down."
The wells, owned by Berry Petroleum, are about 10 miles north of the 4,000-acre Church Camp Fire and because they are on federal lands, they are required to meet specific construction requirements. Officials with the company have been discussing matters with firefighters, but made no public comments Wednesday.
Extra precautions are being taken to protect the wells and other structures in Indian Canyon, Goetzinger said. Firefighters are planning to spend the night on the fire line, allowing them to get on it early, while temperatures are still low and winds are calm.
"We are definitely going to work on that side of the fire, and we're hoping our efforts will be successful," Goetzinger said. The cause of the Church Camp Fire remains under investigation.
A temporary flight restriction was in place over the mountains of eastern Utah Wednesday, to prevent potential interference with helicopters working on the Church Camp Fire.
• In Sanpete County, the Seeley Fire continued to burn through subdivisions and was threatening the Skyline coal mine, said County Commissioner Spencer Cox. Evacuations throughout several subdivisions were in order throughout Scofield, including the Scofield scout camp and Hiawatha, Clear Creek, Wattis and Scofield campgrounds.
The fire started Saturday afternoon and had burned 9,000 acres northwest of Huntington by Wednesday. It is believed to have been started by lightning and continues to rage without any containment.1 comment on this story
• Also in eastern Utah, the Pole Creek Fire began burning after it was ignited by fireworks Wednesday. More than 250 acres of grasslands had burned, about eight miles north of Neola. The Elk Horn Loop subdivision was being evacuated due to the fast-moving fire.
With a statewide campaign under way, Utah's wildfire agencies have issued a charge to the public to help reduce the occurrence of wildfires in the state. "By being more knowledgable of what causes wildfires, we will be able to enjoy our public lands in a safer manner," said U.S. Forest Service prevention Ccordinator Loren Walker.
The early fire season has already taxed local wildland firefighters and has required ample assistance from multiple agencies outside of the state.