An army of firefighters, spearheaded by a specially trained "hot shot" crew, completely contained a wildfire Friday night that had blackened about 1,390 acres of western Utah desert range and desert lands.
Jason Curry of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands said that shortly after dawn Friday nearly 100 firefighters began work to halt the spread of flames and complete containment lines around the blaze, which was burning in grass, sagebrush, pinyon pine and juniper in Tooele County. By 9:30 p.m. Curry said that crews had reached 100 percent containment.
Spreading the message of fire danger
Salt Lake City firefighters went door-to-door to about 300 homes on Friday in the Capitol Hills neighborhood warning of this season’s fire danger.
Firefighters will visit nearly 800 homes along the northeast bench of Salt Lake City over a three-day educational blitz.
“We expect a hot dry summer here,” said Salt Lake City Fire Department spokesman Jasen Asay.
This is the second year the fire department has done the Ready, Set, Go! Program, which educates residents on fire safety tips to keep their homes safe and how to plan for an escape if there is a fire.
Firefighters also gave those they spoke with a bag containing reading material on how to live where the wildland and urban areas converge. Visits will take place on May 19 at the Capitol Hills and Federal Heights neighborhoods and on May 21 in Federal Heights.
Curry estimated the blaze, dubbed the "73 Fire," had scorched up to 1,000 acres by mid-day Friday, roughly twice the acreage reported on Thursday. A GPS-mapping of the blaze late Friday nailed down the acreage total to 1,390.
The fire was believed to have been sparked by hot particles shed from a faulty catalytic converter on a vehicle driving on State Road 73 at a spot about 25 miles southeast of Tooele. Roadside evidence indicates that around 8 a.m. Thursday, pieces of hot metal from the unit landed in grass along the road’s shoulders, sparking the blaze, Curry said.
The 20-member Interagency Hotshot Crew out of Cedar City, trained to battle wildfires in especially remote and rugged locales, was considered a critical element in Friday’s turnaround.
Tribune reporter Roxana Orellana contributed to this story.
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