You might say the Fourth of July was noted for unwelcome fireworks in Utah this year: half a dozen range fires burned in western Utah, making hard work for firefighters.
One blaze burned to within 200 yards of a Beaver County town and closed a reservoir Saturday, while other blazes roared through remote sections of Tooele County, forcing evacuation of a campground.- Minersville Reservoir.
Potentially the most dangerous was the one just west of Minersville Reservoir, Beaver County, which started about 2 p.m. Saturday. Within four hours it had spread to more than 3,600 acres, forcing Bureau of Land Management officials to evacuate campers and boaters from the reservoir.
Flames spread to the reservoir's shore. Anne Stanworth, spokeswoman for the BLM in Cedar City, said the reservoir was evacuated because "the smoke got so bad they were afraid people would run into each other" as they fished and sported on the reservoir using motorboats and jet skis.
Fire engines were called into service from surrounding cities, as were engines owned by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service. Three air tanker planes and two helicopters, a crew of Logan firefighters called the Hot Shots and two additional fire crews also responded, she said.
"We had a threat to Adamsville, which kept them pretty busy late that afternoon." Crews using hand tools, plus fire engines and helicopters, "were able to stop it just outside of town," she added.
The fire got to within 200 yards of Adamsville. While firefighters had drawn up an evacuation plan, it wasn't needed.
At last count, the blaze was more than 4,000 acres. "We declared it contained last night and we're hoping for control tomorrow," Stanworth said Monday.
- Faust fire, Tooele County.
A fire that began in Faust Friday has burned 6,545 acres so far and is about 92 percent contained, said Kathy Jo Pollock, spokeswoman for the Salt Lake Interagency Fire Center.
"It was human-caused. There's real strong evidence. There were tire tracks off in the grass," she said. The desert's grasses are so dry that if a vehicle's hot engine touches the grass, "it will just spark it."
The desert exploded with flame, the fire expanding from 35 acres to 600 acres in only an hour and a half. Jumping U-73, it spread into Mitchell Canyon on the back of the Oquirrh Mountains and burned through the pinyon-juniper forest toward the top of the canyon.
Two air tankers and a helicopter fought the blaze most of the day Friday and Saturday. On Saturday, the winds interfered with the air drops and the aircraft were diverted to the Minersville fire.
- The Beacon fire, south of the Faust fire, Tooele County.
Around 3 a.m. Saturday, dispatchers learned of a fire south of Faust, Tooele County. "Human caused, evidence same as the other one," Pollock said. It burned 643 acres before it was controlled about 11 p.m. on Sunday. Crews are still watching it for hot spots.
Five-Mile Pass near Faust was closed to off-road vehicles because many fire vehicles were using the pass. Once the engines leave the pass will be reopened.
- Skull Valley, Tooele County.
This fire, near the Skull Valley Road, burned about a quarter of an acre on Saturday. Fire crews using two engines were able to control it by noon Saturday.
- Ibapah, Tooele County.
A fire near the Deep Creek Mountains was controlled by 7 p.m. Friday through the work of flame jumpers. Only a few acres were burned.
- Simpson Spring, Tooele County.
Reported at 5 p.m. Saturday, the fire burned 1,240 acres before it was contained 2 p.m. Sunday. Pollock said crews hope to have it controlled by 9 p.m. Monday. About 50 people were fighting the blaze, which was burning both sagebrush and pinyon-juniper plant communities.
The popular Simpson Spring campground was evacuated, she said.