A once-contained fire near Powder Mountain flared again and was raging out of control Thursday morning, while short-handed firefighters in Utah County were struggling with a new blaze near Alpine that blackened 100 acres overnight.The fire near the Powder Mountain ski area had been contained at 500 acres since Sunday, but it broke out again just before 3 p.m. Wednesday and was still out of control Thursday morning after burning 1,200 acres.
A Salt Lake County fire dispatcher said more than 50 people called the dispatch center to report the smell of smoke near their homes in Davis and Salt Lake counties, not knowing the smell had drifted all the way from the Powder Mountain fire 25 miles east of Ogden in Ogden Canyon.
Two air tankers dumped fire retardant slurry on the blaze Wednesday while 40 firefighters tackled the fire from the ground. Three more 20-member crews have been requested, and four air tankers are being held in Boise in case they are needed again to battle the fire from the air Thursday, said Forest Service fire information officer Kathy Jo Pollock.
Local firefighting crews are so busy the three additional crews requested are coming from as far away as Delware, Pennsylvania and Illinois, Pollock said.
The fire started Aug. 24, ignited by sparks from a bulldozer working at the Powder Mountain ski area.
It is not expected to be under control again for six more days. "It just depends on what the winds do. Wind was a real problem yesterday," Interagency Fire Center dispatcher Frank Wiggins said.
Flames were approaching the community of Eden near Pineview Reservoir Thursday morning, but no developed property was in immediate danger, Wiggins said.
At the Alpine blaze, firefighters were hoping for reinforcements and help from the air Thursday morning.
The blaze, sparked Wednesday afternoon by what officials believe was an abandoned campfire, started in the Fort Canyon area a few miles above Alpine. Firefighters fear several homes in the area could be destroyed unless the fire is contained.
Firefighting efforts are being
ampered by steep terrain, rolling rocks and rattle snakes, said Uinta National Forest spokeswoman Beverly Dunn.
Crews from Utah County, the Uinta National Forest, Alpine and American Fork on Wednesday set backfires, worked on firebreaks and established a command post near the blaze. Fire chiefs from Provo, Orem, Springville and Pleasant Grove also were called in for assistance.
Uinta National Forest officials, who have crews battling blazes at Yellowstone National Forest and Powder Mountain, are awaiting reinforcements from Duchesne and the Park Service.
Firefighters had hoped for help Wednesday from air tankers, but planes carrying fire retardant were rerouted to the Powder Mountain fire. Requests for help from helicopters also proved futile.
"We're 12th on the list," said a county fire dispatcher. "There are 11 requests ahead of us."
Ironically, Wednesday's fire began just one day after a special fire closure was ordered in Utah, Wasatch and Juab counties.