Small, but potentially explosive northern Utah fires draw crews
Firefighters hiked into rugged northern Utah mountain terrain Wednesday to assess and fight two new lightning-sparked wildfires.
While neither the Mount Olympus nor Aspen fires were thought larger than an acre in size when initially spotted Tuesday afternoon, they were pouring thick billows of smoke into the sky. Drought-like conditions throughout the state have left high desert grasses, brush and forests tinder-dry, increasing the risk of even small fires exploding into infernos.
Fire Information Officer Kim Osborn said the Mount Olympus blaze, located along the benches just below the peak's summit, was likely ignited during a thunderstorm during the weekend. After a four-hour hike to the site, the small crew had the fire 100 percent contained by Wednesday afternoon.
The Aspen Fire in Cache County, also sparked by thunderstorms that rolled through the region late last week, was burning in a remote, rugged area east of Richmond, in the Mount Naomi Wilderness.
Late Tuesday, firefighters hiked into that area and began work to contain the blaze.
"They spent the night, working to get a line around the fire. Now they are basically mopping up and expected to have it fully contained by 6 p.m. [Wednesday]," Osborn said.
No injuries were reported and no structures were reported threatened.
Meantime, the Sinbad Fire, located about 30 miles east of Moab, had burned about 220 acres since it, too, was sparked by lightning on Sunday. Incident Commander Kevin Cahil said it was about 5 percent contained.
About 15 miles east of East Carbon, the 180-acre Rock Creek Fire was technically contained, but crews remained on scene Wednesday to watch for any flare-ups due to gusty winds. The blaze was lightning-caused as well.
The entire state was under a "Yellow," or compromised air quality advisory through the rest of the week, thanks to a combination of trapped air over the valleys and smoke drifting into Utah from out-of-state fires and the smaller blazes within the state.