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Lightning strike sparks wildfire in Duchesne County

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 1 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

Firefighters with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands extinguish hot spots Monday, Aug. 1, 2012, while fighting the North Altonah Fire in Duchesne County. The fire was caused by lightning, according to the incident commander, Chris Secakuku.

Geoff Liesik, Deseret News

ALTONAH, Duchesne County — A lightning strike sparked a small wildfire Wednesday that drew a quick response from firefighters.

The North Altonah Fire was reported about 1:30 p.m., according to incident commander Chris Secakuku. The fire started near two homes but never directly threatened them, he said. It had burned 100 acres by early Wednesday night.

The blaze is believed to be burning entirely on Ute tribal lands. It is being fought by firefighters from federal, state and local agencies. They were aided by aerial water drops from a helicopter, which Secakuku said has been temporarily reassigned from Arizona to Vernal due to the severe fire danger in the Uintah Basin.

The region has seen major thunderstorms in recent days that have brought heavy but sporadic rainfall. While the moisture is welcome, Secakuku said it has done little to alleviate the bone dry conditions in the area.

"It'll sure wet down the fine fuels, you know, some of the grasses and some of the sage," he said. "But all it takes is a little breeze to dry those out again. And the heavier fuels, you know, the trees, some of the down and dead logs, those things are so dry that it's going to take quite a bit of rain."

Firefighters planned to work until dark and then monitor the fire overnight. They hope to have it contained Thursday.

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