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Wildfires keep crew busy in Utah County, along Colorado border

Published June 1, 2012 7:43 am

Causes unknown • Both Sunrise Mine, Clay Pit fires remain under investigation.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

While fire crews wrapped up one wildfire near Utah Lake, and took control of one along southeastern Utah's border with Colorado, another wildfire sparked Thursday and quickly burned through hundreds of acres in Utah County.

Crews fought to contain a fast-moving fire west of Utah Lake that burned about 200 acres in its first hour Thursday evening.

The fire was sparked a few miles south of Saratoga Springs along State Road 68 around 4:45 p.m., said Jason Curry, public information officer for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. He said the fire was human-caused, and that officials were in contact with several people who were shooting at targets in the area and saw the fire spark.

Curry said they had 120 personnel fighting the blaze Thursday night, and planned to have several people work through the night to monitor the fire. The fire grew rapidly through Thursday evening, and Curry said they believe the fire had reached past 200 acres at 9 p.m., but an accurate estimate couldn't be made because of smoke in the area.

No homes or structures had been threatened as of Thursday evening. Curry said the closest buildings were about three-quarters of a mile away, but weren't in jeopardy.Smoke blew across SR68 Thursday evening, which may have played a part in two accidents in the area. Minor injuries were reported.In southeastern Utah, crews hoped by this weekend to complete fire containment lines around a blaze that had blackened more than 6,130 acres along Utah's border with Colorado.

Rich Harvey, a commander with the Rocky Basin 2 Incident Management Team, said more than 600 firefighters began the day with the Sunrise Mine Fire, which was burning grasslands and high-desert forests southwest of Gateway, Colo.; it was 70 percent contained. A fleet of water-bearing helicopters concentrating on remaining hot spots was aiding crews struggling to fight the flames in rugged, dry and remote terrain.

The fire has prompted authorities to periodically close the Buckeye Reservoir, R-1 and John Brown roads, as well as sections of the Carpenter and Sinbad ridges in Colorado and Utah, and Buckeye Basin and all Manti-La Sal National Forest lands north of Willow Basin and Buckeye creeks.

No serious injuries were reported, though on Wednesday two firefighters were pulled from the lines due to unspecified illness. No structural losses had been reported.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

Meantime, firefighters completely contained the Clay Pit Fire on Thursday around 5:30 p.m. The fire had blackened 229 acres west of Utah Lake along Highway 68, near Pelican Point.

Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Cami Lee said crews expected to have the grass and brush fire fully contained sometime Thursday night.

No injuries or structural damage were reported, she said.

The cause of the Clay Pit Fire, which began about 8 p.m. Wednesday, also remained under investigation.