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Progress on fires, but peril looms large

Published July 22, 2011 11:33 am

Pioneer Day weekend • Hot, dry conditions over holiday means risk for new blazes is high.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Crews had closed containment lines around northern Utah's remaining wildfires Friday, and they braced for a holiday weekend of elevated risk for new blazes in the state's western half.

A new brush fire sparked about 1 p.m. Friday south of Saratoga Springs. Residents of the Lake Mountain Estates subdivision were initially asked to voluntarily evacuate their homes, but crews were able to prevent the flames from spreading to inhabited areas.

In addition to ground crews, two helicopters, two heavy tanker planes and two small assault planes attacked the 100 acres of flames located near Pelican Point on county and Bureau of Land Management land on Lake Mountain. The majority of the flames were extinguished Friday night, but crews were monitoring the site for any flare-ups.

Elsewhere in Utah County, at nearly 1,100 acres, the lightning-sparked, high-desert Goose Nest Fire, 30 miles southwest of Provo, had been 100 percent contained. Fire lines were also completed around the Patterson Pass Fire. That blaze, begun by target shooters, scorched about 120 acres of brush and juniper stands 20 miles northeast of Wendover, near the Utah-Nevada state line.

Firefighters also had the upper hand on the 100-acre Millard West Bench Fire, started Monday about 125 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, and the 50-acre Mag Fire, about five miles northeast of Holden in Millard County.

The Topliff Fire, which had blackened nearly 300 acres of grasses and brush on BLM land in Tooele County's 12 Mile Pass area, was 100 percent contained by Friday night, said BLM spokeswoman Cami Lee.

But crews may not get much of a breather as they prepare for what could be a fiery Pioneer Day weekend.

The National Weather Service, noting its hot, dry and gusty forecast through Monday, issued a "red flag" fire danger warning for the western half of the state.

At risk, forecasters said, were the state's high-desert rangelands from the Three Corners region in the extreme north, where the Nevada-Idaho-Utah borders meet, and running south through Tooele and Wendover to Delta, Milford and Escalante and into southwestern Utah's St. George and Zion National Park areas.

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