A wildfire just south of Heber was not thought to be much of a threat for the first few hours after it started at about 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. One big wind gust later, though, and that all changed.
Residents of approximately 50 homes on Little Sweden Road in the small town of Daniel were ordered to evacuate about 10:15 p.m. after wind gusts expanded the Big Hollow Fire from 80 to about 300 acres in a relatively short period of time. By Friday morning, the fire had burned 418 acres and was 22% contained.
The evacuation order was lifted at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday, but homeowners were told to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice if fire conditions change. No structures have been damaged in the fire.
“Firefighters still feel really confident because the homes it’s threatening have some big agricultural alfalfa fields between them and the fire,” said Mike Eriksson, area manager for Forestry, Fire and State Lands department. “So they’ve started a burnout operation at the foot of the hill to clean the rest of that up.”
Eriksson noted that the presence of Daniels Creek behind the homes was another reason for encouragement.
“It’s not desirable — nobody ever wants fire out the back window,” he added. “But we feel pretty confident that they’ll be able to do what they need to do to keep those structures safe.”
Erikkson said that the fire had been determined to be human-caused, and the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. Erikkson noted that fires had occurred in almost the exact same area in each of the past two years — both as a result of people bypassing the nearby gun range to shoot their firearms in Daniels Canyon.
A red flag warning for the mountains in central and southern Utah expired on Thursday at 9 p.m., but the state still faces higher-than-usual temperatures — 5-10 degrees above normal, according to the National Weather Service — for the next several days. The forecast calls for temperatures in the mid- to upper-90s in the Salt Lake City area, with triple digit temperatures in southern Utah.
The NWS warned there could be isolated to scattered thunderstorms that will produce little rainfall but could bring lightning strikes and gusty winds to areas that are already dry.
According to Utah Wildfire Info, none of the other eight wildfires burning in the state currently threaten any structures. The most recent updates on the fires as of Friday evening are:
• The Pole Canyon Fire in Utah County has burned 488 acres and is 65% contained. It was caused by sparks from a bulldozer.
• The Mountain Home Fire in Weber County has burned 78 acres and is now considered 100% contained. “All resources have been released. An engine crew from the Ogden Ranger District will continue to monitor the fire,” Utah Wildfire Info said. The fire was caused by a cigarette dropped in dry grass.
• The Turkey Farm Road Fire north of St. George has burned 11,993 acres and is 60% contained. It was caused by fireworks.
• The Allen Fire in Daggett County along the Utah-Colorado border burned 40 acres and is now 90% contained. Lightning is suspected as the cause.
• The Abbott Fire in Duchesne County burned 52 acres and is now considered 100% contained, though an engine crew will monitor the fire for the next couple of days as a precaution. Lightning is suspected.
• The Split Fire at Dinosaur National Monument has burned 37 acres and is 0% contained. It was started by lightning on June 26. The park remains open.
• The Big Summit Fire in Iron County along the Utah-Nevada border has burned 5,076 acres and is 10% contained. The cause of the fire is unknown.
• The Veyo West Fire in Washington County has burned 2,618 acres and is 40% contained. The cause of the fire is unknown.