Several homes near the top of Emigration Canyon were in imminent danger of burning early Saturday as gusting winds whipped a 550-acre brush fire out of control near Killian Canyon.
The fire had moved within 100 yards of three homes about midnight as crews worked frantically to establish firebreaks to halt the advancing flames.Meanwhile, fire crews were fighting three other fires Friday along the Wasatch Front, in addition to the blaze between Emigration and Parleys canyons in the Afleck campground area.
Access from East Canyon, Parleys Canyon and the Emigration Road were closed Friday afternoon because of the fire, said Kathy Jo Pollock, Interagency Fire Center spokeswoman. The cause of the fire was unknown.
"It's real heavy oak brush that's burning," said Pollock.
Nine homes in the Killian Canyon area, eight miles east of Hogle Zoo, were evacuated for the second time Friday about 10 p.m., as the fire reached within a few hundred yards of three homes. Another forty homes in the Pinecrest area were put on notice for immediate evacuation should the Killian homes become involved.
Salt Lake City and County firefighters were trying to establish a firebreak to stop the fire, which split into two columns, threatening the homes from two sides. Winds gusting to 20 miles per hour whipped the blaze out of control.
Four tankers were working on the fire, and Pollock said four 20-person crews and other firefighting teams had been called in to help battle the blaze.
Effects of the fire were seen in Salt Lake City on Friday evening as airborne ash from the blaze drifted from the east on canyon breezes. Many shoppers and people getting off work appeared startled by the fine ash as it settled onto streets and sidewalks. Smoke from the fire also settled into the Salt Lake area, adding to the evening haze.
"It kind of looks like paper. Some of it's white and some of it's black," said Janet Yergensen, a Salt Lake resident who lives near 31st South and 26th East.
A fire near Alpine, Utah County, jumped a firebreak Friday evening on the northwest perimeter and ran up the side of a ridge expanding that blaze from 310 acres to 350 acres.
Fire crews from Michigan, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico joined local firefighters battling that fire, which continued burning out of control.
Uinta National Forest officials had hoped to contain the fire by Monday and control it by Tuesday.
There was no indication whether the fire's expansion would change that timetable.
Forest Service spokeswoman Loyal Clark said the Federal Aviation Administration had imposed an air closure to aircraft because curious spectators had been flying over the area causing problems for tankers flying water and fire retardant drops into the area.
A tanker plane continued to make air drops during the afternoon Friday while ground crews received help from bulldozers and fire engines. A Forest Service helicopter flew in from Boise on Friday afternoon and was expected to help with water drops beginning Saturday morning.
The danger to homes became a major concern late Friday as shifting winds caused the fire to move within one mile of homes in the Alpine Cove area. Crews built firebreaks in the area while residents watered down their roofs and property.
Officials believe the Alpine blaze was sparked Wednesday afternoon by an abandoned campfire near Sliding Rock in Fort Canyon.
A 2,000-acre fire near Powder Mountain ski resort in Weber County continued to frustrate firefighters Friday. The fire was considered under control on Tuesday, but roared back to life Wednesday fanned by gusting winds that pushed the fire over firebreaks.
"The fire remains about a half mile from the town of Eden and there is no threat to any structures," Pollock said.
Another fire, which erupted Thursday, had burned more than 100 acres by Friday evening. Heber firefighters and crews from Michigan are were battling the Wallsburg Ridge fire near Deer Creek Reservoir. Additional crews have had been called. Officials have had not estimated a date for containment or control of that fire.