Hilltop Fire in Sanpete County grows, prompting more evacuations

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune "I'm not too worried about it," said Andy Neves of the Hilltop fire burning west of his family's farm along Milburn Road in Milburn, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. "It looks like it's contained." A quick-burning wildfire southeast of Indianola in Sanpete County didn't slow overnight after claiming at least two structures. Officials aren't sure what caused the Hilltop Fire, but once it started, it grew rapidly from 50 acres to an estimated 1,400.

After a quickly moving wildfire southeast of Indianola in Sanpete County claimed at least two structures — and firefighters were trying to to save nearly 200 still standing in its path — officials have ordered new evacuations.

The Hilltop Fire sparked Monday afternoon in “very, very dry” timber, brush and short grass. Officials believe humans caused the blaze. It grew rapidly from 50 acres to an estimated 1,400, according to a news release from state fire officials.

The fire was threatening about 500 people near Indianola, Blackhawk Estates and Milburn, nearly 40 percent of the population in that area, according to a news release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agency has approved funding to help fight the fire.

On Tuesday evening, new evacuation orders were given for Hideaway Valley, south of South Ridge Road, and west of Shadow Canyon Road, south of Indianola. Mandatory evacuations remained in place for residents living in Blackhawk Estates, areas north of Hilltop Road and areas west of Milburn Road.

Firefighters hadn’t contained any of the fire as of Tuesday afternoon, when winds picked up and temperatures rose. As of Tuesday night, the fire was “torching” trees in bursts of flame that can jump to other vegetation, said Leanne Fox, spokeswoman for Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

While fire officials have requested additional crews, they are low on the priority list for resources because of other fires burning in the West, Fox said.

Fortunately, Fox said, local crews have pledged fire engines to the fight. She said officials requested additional hand crews, but so far one is assigned to the fire.

A helicopter has been dispatched to fight the fire, and Fox said resources from Salt Lake City are available.

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox lives on a farm in nearby Fairview and has been tweeting about the firefighting — and, the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office said, helping to set irrigation lines.

Cox tweeted Tuesday morning that volunteer Sanpete County fire departments completed “amazing aggressive saves” of two homes. He tweeted that his farm isn’t in danger.

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