Five active wildfires burn across Utah as state sees extreme conditions

San Juan County blaze destroys three structures, forces evacuations.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Firefighters and utility workers climb up the hill to check out the power poles, near the area where the Bear Fire burns in the mountains northwest of Helper on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.

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Five active wildfires remain burning across the state as parts of Utah face dry fuel conditions not seen since the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s, according to Utah Fire Info.

The Pack Creek Fire in San Juan County, which ignited June 9 due to an unattended campfire, is at 4,944 acres with zero percent containment, destroying three structures and causing evacuations of all homes in the Pack Creek community, according to the most recent update from Utah Fire Info. The fire has caused multiple road closures in the area, with evacuations of the Warner Lake Campground and the Oowah Lake Campground as well.

FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Nancy Dragani approved the state’s request for a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant on Thursday, after determining that the fire “threatened such destruction as would constitute a major disaster,” according to a press release. At the time of the request, the fire was threatening 110 homes in and around the community of Pack Creek, near Moab, and was also threatening a high voltage line in the area.

The National Weather Service had issued high wind warnings for the Pack Creek area and mandatory evacuations had taken place for approximately 500 people, according to the release. Fire fighting operations for the blaze include six engines, two water tenders, three helicopters, and 125 firefighters and overhead personnel.

FEMA funds were also approved on Monday for the Mammoth Fire near St. George, which remains at 709 acres and 40% containment, with Mammoth Creek Village still evacuated. Dixie National Forest has issued road, area and trail closures to protect public safety during the fire suppression efforts.

(Utah Fire Info) A map of road closures in Dixie National Forest due to the Mammoth Fire on June 7.

The Bear Fire, which is 4 miles northwest of Helper, has burned 8,332 acres and is at 5% containment. U.S. 6 remains closed from milepost 221 near the Emma Park Road junction to milepost 230 near the U.S. 191 junction, and the highway will remain closed until at least noon as fire operations personnel assess the need for closure.

Firefighters plan to “take advantage of today’s cooler temperatures and calmer winds” to continue operations along U.S. 6, securing the fire’s edge along the highway while looking to build containment lines. No evacuations have been ordered, but the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office issued a pre-evacuation notice Thursday night for 10 residences in northwest Helper, and firefighters are reevaluating the need for the pre-evacuation notice with the Sheriff’s office this morning.

The Bear Fire is sharing resources with the Bennion Creek Fire in Carbon County, which led to the evacuation of 30 to 50 people from Aspen Cove yesterday. The Bennion Creek blaze has grown to 4,706 acres at zero percent containment and experienced “significant winds and extreme fire behavior” on Thursday, pushing it to the southeast.

The East Canyon fire is at 90% containment. The blaze was at 835 acres early Thursday. The human-caused Goat Springs fire in Juab County, which burned 444 acres, was extinguished Thursday evening.