A nighttime attack on a Hurricane-area wildfire gave firefighters the upper hand on the approximately 2,200-acre blaze in spite of winds that kicked up in a Utah’s tinder-dry high desert Wednesday.
The fire, which began at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, burned in grass and sagebrush in hills that dot the area between Hurricane and Apple Valley. Nearby Highway 59 was closed for several hours Tuesday evening as smoke billowed from the blaze, and flames were at one point moving toward homes in the Angel Heights and Rainbow Canyon areas in southeast Hurricane.
However, winds shifted away from both the subdivision and highway. Crews worked late to take advantage of cooler temperatures, said fire spokesman David Eaker. The blaze was about 90 percent contained by Wednesday night.
“Winds today really tested the lines and they held,” he said. “There really aren’t a lot of threats left out there.”
The fire started on private property in Hurricane and was human-caused, but the exact spark is still under investigation, said Sheldon Wimmer with the Bureau of Land Management. Southwest winds spread the blaze over the dry country and “into the lava mesas and draws on the east side of Hurricane,” Wimmer said.
About 160 firefighters — a mix of BLM, Forest Service, Hurricane city and local volunteer crews — fought the blaze through the night and into Wednesday morning, though that number went down to about 75 as the day wore on.
Eaker warned Utahns to keep a close eye on any combustibles over the Memorial Day holiday.
— Tribune reporter Lindsay Whitehurst contributed to this story.