Millard County wildfire scorches over 6,600 acres in 24 hours

The Halfway Hill Fire is the largest wildfire the state has seen this season, and officials are expecting further growth.

(Utah Fire Info) A helicopter dips from a “pumpkin" water tank to suppress flames from the Halfway Hill Fire near Fillmore, which grew to 6,640 acres in 24 hours.

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The Halfway Hill Fire has burned over 6,640 acres southeast of Fillmore since its ignition Friday afternoon, and fire officials expect the blaze will grow.

The Millard County wildfire was first measured at 30+ acres at 3 p.m. on Friday, but grew to become the state’s largest wildfire so far this season in less than 24 hours. Erratic wind gusts have limited the use of air resources to fight the blaze, and combined with worsening fire conditions, the fire is 0% contained, according to Utah Fire Info.

The fire caused evacuations on Friday for the Virginia Hills subdivision southeast of Fillmore, which remain in place. Kayli Yardley, a fire prevention specialist with the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, said only 3-4 residents live in the area full time, and that the subdivision is mostly summer homes.

“When we when we see those types of conditions, that’s when we need to be even more cautious and take extra precaution, because it just takes that little bit of a spark to take off and make this a catastrophic wildfire,” Yardley said. “It’s not done. It’s putting on a show, I’m confident that it’s going to increase in size again. We’ll have another few hundred, maybe another thousand or so acres added on to this by the time we’re all said and done.”

About 35 miles away from the Halfway Hill Fire, another wildfire ignited on Friday afternoon east of Oak City. The Dry Creek Fire has burned about 900 acres and also caused an evacuation of Oak City Canyon, which remains in place.

“I don’t have a number on how many actual campers were up in that area, I just know that they were able to go in and get everybody out,” Yardley said. “Between both of these fires, there were several rangeland folks that had cows, their permits up here on the mountain, and they were able to go in and and get their cows moved or get their animals taken care of as well.”

Both fires were sparked by human causes, but the exact sources of the fires are still under investigation. Yardley said she doesn’t foresee the fires combining, since the Dry Creek Fire would have to “really pick up some ground” to connect with the Halfway Hill Fire.

However, the state will likely see smoke impacts from the two blazes. Yardley wasn’t sure if the smoke would move up to the Wasatch Front, but said it’s possible.

“It’s super hot, super dry — that’s the drought conditions that are really impacting a lot of this,” Yardley said. “It’s super important for folks to just remember that little bit of rain that we that we’ve received, it’s a drop in the bucket to what we actually need to be able to come out of this. The fuel moistures are just too dry, and again, it’s just it’s just a tinderbox up here.”