Evacuations ordered — again — near Pack Creek Fire

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After lifting evacuation orders on Sunday morning, the San Juan County sheriff again imposed mandatory orders prompted by the Pack Creek Fire on Sunday evening.

Sheriff Jason Torgerson issued the order for all private property in and around the area east of Geyser Pass in the LaSal Mountains, from Blue Lake through the Dark Canyon area.

“We have been notified that the Pack Creek Fire has breached the Geyser Pass road and therefore, for the safety of all citizens, we ask that you evacuate at this time while it is safe to do so,” Torgerson posed on Facebook. “Failure to evacuate at this time is at your own risk and your safety cannot be guaranteed.”

About 70 residences and 70 other buildings are threatened by the fire.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, because of “extreme hot and dry conditions” in the area, the fire grew “significantly” on Sunday and crossed the Geyser Pass Road into the Oowah Lake area. Firefighters believe it will “continue moving east into the geyser pass area in between Haystack Mountain and Mount Mellenthin.”

The Pack Creek Fire was last estimated at more than 5,400 acres with 6% containment, and those numbers are expected to be updated on Monday morning.

• Elsewhere, the Bear Fire, northwest of Helper, is estimated at 10,932 acres and is 14% contained.

• The Bennion Creek Fire, burning northwest of Scofield Reservoir, is has grown to 6,500 acres and is 10% contained.

• The Mammoth Fire, south of Mammoth Creek Village is 72% contained and has burned 709 acres.

Beginning on Wednesday, the Bureau of Land Management will expand its fire restrictions from southern Utah to public lands in Juab, Millard, Sanpete, Sevier, Wayne and Piute counties. And on Friday, the restrictions will go into effect on BLM land in the rest of the state.

“Given the extreme drought conditions, human-caused fires are the biggest threat to public lands right now,” Restrictions include:

• No campfires, except in “permanently constructed” cement or metal fire pits in agency-developed campgrounds and picnic areas.

• No grinding, cutting and welding of metal.

• No smoking.

• No operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device.

• No non-commercial use/discharge of explosives of any kind.

• No fireworks of any kind.

According to the BLM, 294 of 326 wildfires so far this year in Utah have been human-caused — 90%.