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Eastern Utah wildfire burns home, slows advance

Published July 6, 2014 2:12 pm

Fire's growth seems to have stagnated, fire officials say.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Reinforcements arrived Sunday to rein in the large wildfire burning north of Vernal, which has reportedly destroyed a family's home.

The 3,569-acre blaze, dubbed the Taylor Mountain Road Fire, spread northeast around Taylor Mountain Saturday afternoon but seems to have made slow progress Sunday, said Kelsey Birchell, Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman.

Overnight, though, a Vernal family reportedly lost their home to the flames, said Rich Woodruff, spokesman for the Utah Red Cross. No one was hurt, and the family is scheduled to meet with the Red Cross Sunday afternoon to discuss their needs, Woodruff said.

Two more structures have been lost, though it was not immediately clear if those were homes as well. Outbuildings have been impacted as well, according to fire officials.

Six hand crews and 12 fire engines arrived Sunday to help the 20 fire engines, a helicopter, three airplane tankers and two speed planes already attacking the fire, which remained no more than 5 percent contained as it burned through grass, sage and pinyon-juniper. The crews are working on securing the perimeter closest to homes, along with establishing a containment line around the rest of the fire.

Despite that, fire officials have lifted Saturday's evacuations for Taylor Mountain Road. Steinaker State Park remains closed, however, with active fires still southwest of the beach, according to Utah State Parks. A helicopter is using the park for water and refueling. About 150 to 250 campers, boaters and picnickers had been evacuated from the park Saturday.

U.S. Highway 191 is also open again, following Saturday's closure.

"They're still going to restrict travel" to people who just want to look at the smoke, but residents are being allowed back, Birchell said.

The cause of the fire remains undetermined.

While no figures were immediately available for how many structures were in danger, Steinaker State Park rangers reported 20-foot flames were threatening park buildings, including a maintenance building.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mikeypanda