FRUITLAND, Duchesne County — Residents in as many as 300 homes were ordered to evacuate Monday after a fast-moving wildfire east of Strawberry Reservoir destroyed cabins and homes as it spread to an estimated 30,000 acres.
Fire officials late Monday had no estimates on how many homes and cabins burned in what has been named the Dollar Ridge Fire.
An order issued from the office of the Duchesne County Commission Monday called the fire "the most complex wildfire currently burning" in Utah. Residents in a western portion of the county, including the Pinion Ridge area, were told to leave immediately.
Gov. Gary Herbert tweeted Monday evening to encourage people who live near the fire to follow evacuation and other orders from fire officials and law enforcement officers. He also advised to Utahns to "be vigilant and firewise."
"We are concerned about those who are negatively impacted and are very grateful to those who are fighting these fires. Please remember all impacted in your prayers," he wrote.
Jenny Taylor, a resident who had to evacuate, said she only had 10 minutes to leave her cabin and "it's probably gone by now."
"It's sad. Makes me want to cry. Lot of money, lot of time, all gone," she said.
Roy Warner, another resident of the area, said the fire looked like "the gods are angry."
"They tend to kind of work uphill, but that guy looks like he wants to come down," he said of the wildfire.
A shelter was set up at the LDS chapel in Fruitland and at Duchesne High School for people displaced by the fire, state fire officials said.
The wildfire started about 4 1/2 miles southeast of Strawberry Reservoir about 1 p.m. Sunday on private property, and wind and steep terrain in the area caused it to quickly spread to the east and into Duchesne County.
Initially, fire crews used air tankers and helicopters to attack the blaze, "but fire behavior made it too hot for crews to access," fire officials said in a statement.
One hundred firefighters battled the blaze Monday, with an advanced fire team en route to take command of the fire.
"Today, crews are being assigned in areas where containment lines can be built. Helicopters will also be working to support firefighting efforts on the ground," the statement said.
The fire had zero containment Monday evening.
Also late Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency announced in a press release it was stepping in with federal funds to help the state fight the fire. The agency says it will pay 75 percent of costs from expenses such as field camps and equipment use.
At the time state fire officials requested the funding, "over 100 homes were immediately threatened. The fire was also threatening infrastructure, including gas and oil wells and the Strawberry River Watershed," according to FEMA officials.
Jason Curry, public information officer with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, said 92 percent of Utah's fires this year have been human-caused and "preventable."
Citing "extreme fire danger conditions and increased human caused wildfires," interagency fire managers implemented advanced fire restrictions for five counties in southern Utah.
Among other fires still burning in Utah Monday:
• The West Valley Fire in Washington County's Pine Valley has burned 10,500 acres and was 5 percent contained. Utah fire officials said the blaze was caused by a campfire left unattended. More than 500 firefighters were working on the fire Monday, according to officials.
• The Willow Patch Fire near Richfield has burned about 4,700 acres and was 55 percent contained. Officials believe it was also human caused.
• The Black Mountain Fire near Minersville in Beaver County, caused by a vehicle accident last week, was 90 percent contained at about 6,000 acres.
With active wildfires and fireworks expected to be lit for the Fourth of July, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality released a statement cautioning people to be aware of potential high concentrations of particulate matter in the air.
Bryce Bird, air quality director for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, said his department has seen "significant spikes" in particulate matter concentrations during the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day.Comment on this story
“These spikes are mostly related to the smaller, neighborhood fireworks and barbecues," he said. "Exceptional events like wildfires and fireworks on holidays can make our air quality much worse — a fact that we hope people will take into consideration when planning their holiday parties.”
The department says children, elderly people and "sensitive people," including those with respiratory conditions, are most affected by particulate matter pollution and should avoid fireworks or "view them from a safe distance."
Contributing: Andrew Adams, Caitlin Burchill