Crews battle 17,000-acre 'Baboon Fire' in Beaver County

Published: Thursday, July 12 2012 10:17 p.m. MDT

MINERSVILLE, Beaver County — Crews responded to a wildfire in Beaver County that quickly spread to 17,000 acres Thursday and threatened a hog farm, officials said.

The fire began around 12:30 p.m. approximately four miles south of Minersville and west of state Route 130, Bureau of Land Management spokesman Don Carpenter said.

The fire quickly jumped to 1,500 acres and had reached 17,000 acres by Thursday evening.

"The cedar trees are just popping ahead of the fire from the heat that's produced, and they're igniting prior to the fire line even hitting them," Beaver County Emergency Director Les Whitney said.

Carpenter said the cause is still under investigation, but the fire could have been due to lightning.

"There were thunderstorms in the area, but I don't know if they had lightning or not," Carpenter said.

The fire threatened the Circle Four farm, prompting an evacuation of the farm's employees, officials said. The farm's pigs were not evacuated, but an air tanker worked the fire lines repeatedly along with choppers and water buckets.

"It's probably the largest hog farm in the nation, and there are quite a few employees who work there as well," said fire information officer Nick Howell.  

State Route 130 was temporarily closed in the afternoon and again Thursday evening to aid firefighting efforts.

Contributing: John Hollenhorst

Benjamin Wood

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