One of four Utah forest and range fires should be controlled by late Friday, while crews are fighting to overcome erratic winds and find ways to move equipment to remote back country to control the other blazes.
Crews expected to contain a 400-acre fire near the Powder Mountain Ski area, about 25 miles east of Ogden, by late Friday morning and to control it by 6 p.m., said Wally Shiverdecker, Interagency Fire Center spokesman."It's pretty much run out of fuel," he said. The fire started, officials believe, when the metal tread of a bulldozer working at the ski resort hit a rock and sent sparks flying into dry grass.
Meanwhile, erratic winds are making it difficult for crews to contain a 140-acre fire near Deer Lodge, about 20 miles north of Vernal on U.S. 191. And fighting two other fires - one just east of Salt Lake City and one near Teepee Lakes in the Uinta Mountains - is hampered by difficulty in getting equipment to them.
About the Deer Lodge fire, Shiverdecker said, "We have no estimate when that fire may be contained. It has jumped back and forth across the highway because of erratic winds and dry conditions. The Utah Highway Patrol has had to close U-191 from time to time."
Air tankers dropped 8,000 gallons of retardant on the blaze, which began about 3 p.m. Wednesday. The fire, which is especially explosive because it is feeding on beetle-killed timber, even forced the fire camp to be moved three times Thursday to avoid the flames, said agency spokeswoman Merle Young.
Crews kept the flames from a microwave station on Grizzly Ridge. But power to the station was shut down, and crews from a nearby Chevron oil field operation were cranking up generators to maintain power to oil pipelines.
A dispatcher for the Salt Lake City Fire Department said crews were having a difficult time reaching a five-acre fire at 19th South and 28th East Friday morning.
Meanwhile, Shiverdecker said the 30-acre Teepee Lakes fire is apparently spreading while agencies also work to get crews and equipment to the remote area. That fire is also being aided by dry ground conditions and low humidity.
"We have had plenty of crews to fight fires so far, but our real trouble this summer has been with helicopters. The majority of our big fires have been in parks or in wilderness areas without roads, which makes it difficult to get crews and equipment there," Shiverdecker said.
He added that some crews from as far away as Alaska and the southeastern United States are helping to fight the Utah fires.