Wildfire in Washington County expands to nearly 3,000 acres; some evacuation orders lifted

(Darry Bullard | FOX 13) The Veyo West Fire burns in Washington County on July 13, 2020.

Parts of the Washington County community of Veyo remain under an evacuation order Tuesday morning, due to a wildfire that ignited near Veyo on Monday afternoon.

The flames spread quickly through dry brush and grass, consumed two outbuildings and threatened 800 homes, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Veyo West Fire was one of many blazes that broke out Monday across the state. The National Weather Service posted red flag warnings for much the state Monday afternoon due to hot, dry, gusty conditions that were expected to persist into Tuesday.

The Veyo West Fire had grown to nearly 3,000 acres by Tuesday morning, with zero containment, FOX 13 reported. The fire is covering federal, state and private land, FEMA reported in a release Monday night.

Brookside and the west side of Veyo were ordered to evacuate, and officials closed off State Road 18, along with secondary roads. Brookside and Veyo are unincorporated hamlets north of St. George, each home to a few hundred people.

Some of Monday night’s evacuation orders were lifted Tuesday, Kevin Abel, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, said Tuesday. Early surveys of the towns found at least one hay barn had been damaged by the fire, Abel said, but it seemed that all the houses remained undamaged.

The fire did come close to homes, but firefighters were able to protect them, Abel said. “We have houses standing in the black,” he said.

The top concern for fire crews Friday, Abel said, is a “red flag” warning, meaning high winds are expected through Tuesday afternoon. Crews were working to establish fire lines north and west of the fire area, he said.

By Monday evening, federal and local fire crews mounted an aggressive attack. Multiple air tankers and helicopters were dropping retardant and water on the flames in an effort to keep them out of residential areas. No containment had been accomplished by Monday night.

The cause of the fire, along with three others that started Monday afternoon in Utah, remains under investigation.

In the face of persistent weather conditions that are conducive to fire, restrictions on burning, campfires and target shooting were imposed across much of central Utah on Monday. So far this year, an alarming share, more than 80%, of the state’s fires have been caused by human carelessness, including three in Utah County that threatened property and scorched a rock art preserve.

Also burning with little to no containment Monday were the Goshen Canyon, Abbott and Allen Draw fires, all started Monday in northern Utah. Lightning is the suspected cause of the Abbott Fire, burning on 100 acres in Indian Canyon in Duchesne County.

The Goshen Canyon Fire has so far burned 215 acres southeast of Goshen, according to Utah Fire Info, and was 50% contained Monday night. Two homes were evacuated.

The FEMA grant was authorized late Monday to cover up to 75% of the state’s cost in fighting the Veyo West Fire, after “determining that the fire threatened such destruction as would constitute a major disaster,” according to a news release.

This story will be updated.

Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 are partners in a content-sharing agreement.