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Crews struggle to tame Utah wildfires in rugged, steep terrain

Published July 28, 2014 10:39 am

Levan Wildfire • Human-caused blaze tops 4,300 acres.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

An army of more than 500 firefighters was slowly turning back the flames of central Utah's Levan Wildfire on Monday, having halted its spread at 4,336 acres.

Fire Information Officer Brian Reublinger said crews, aided by nine water-bearing helicopters of various sizes, 15 engine crews and a bulldozer, had contained 35 percent the blaze. However, the remote, rugged and steep high desert terrain made the going slow — and there was no estimate for when crews expected to completely hem in the flames.

The fire earlier had been estimated at about 2,000 acres, but more accurate, GPS-based mapping over the weekend resulted in the much higher acreage total.

"We had no new growth overnight," Reublinger stressed, noting that in addition to completing fire lines around the blaze just south of the tiny town of Levan, crews were dousing hot spots and watching for any new flareups.

He said the cost of fighting the Levan Wildfire, which began Thursday, had topped $1.8 million as of Monday. No structures have been destroyed by the fire.

While the Levan Wildfire was believed human-caused, specifics remained under investigation.

The 1,600-acre Tunnel Hollow Fire was all but contained as of Monday as crews continued to mop up and keep an eye out for any windblown embers. The blaze was started by lightning about 5 miles east of Morgan.

Firefighters also were moving toward full containment of the nearly 200-acre Plateau Fire, 5 miles east of Salina. It was 60 percent contained as of Monday. The 670-acre Black Crooke Peace Fire, in south Tooele County, was 95 percent contained, Fire Information Officer Kathy Jo Pollock said.

The 140-acre Spring Canyon Fire, which was started by fireworks on Saturday near the town of Springville, was 90 percent contained by Monday evening.

Crews were in monitoring mode after having tamed both the 1,140-acre lightning-sparked Anaconda Fire, northeast of Tooele, and the 4,150-acre Simpson Complex Fire, near Vernon. —

Levan Wildfire meeting

There will be a community meeting in Nephi at the Juab High School Little Theater on Monday at 8 p.m. Everyone is invite to come and meet Incident Commander Mark Rosenthal and to see the progress of firefighting efforts. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions.

— Source: Bureau of Land Management