Utah wildfire updates: Jacob City Fire now 35% contained

This week’s thunderstorms and upcoming monsoonal moisture may provide relief.

The Jacob City Fire that has burned 4,185 acres in Tooele County since July 9 reached 35% containment on Friday, officials said.

The blaze burning about a mile east of Stockton ignited after a generator caught fire, authorities have said. Stockton police on Tuesday arrested a man accused of negligence in connection with the blaze.

This week’s thunderstorms have dumped “moderate wetting rain” on the wildfire, according to Utah Wildfire Info, which was especially helpful at the blaze’s lower elevations. But at higher elevations, heavy tree canopy prevented the rain from reaching flames on the ground.

The weekend forecast is hot and dry, however. Authorities expect monsoonal moisture to return to the area next week.

Man attempted to put out generator fire, police say

On Friday, Utah Wildfire Info reported that crews had improved the fire line on the northern boundary of the blaze and were able to increase containment along its perimeter. Crews are focusing on the northern area of the wildfire, near Edwards Pass, south of Soldier Creek and north of Bald Mountain.

The southern and southeastern edges of the fire are situated on more rugged terrain, so containment has been more elusive. Crews have been dispatched to remove dead trees in steep areas, which can endanger fire responders.

The man arrested Tuesday faces charges of reckless burning and reckless endangerment. He said the generator near his RV caught fire on July 9 and spread to surrounding trees.

It happened as he left a circular saw plugged into the generator, police said. The saw often heated up during use, the man told investigators, so he set it down on the back of the RV, near a sealed gas canister. Temperatures that day reached about 103 degrees.

About 10 minutes later, the man heard a noise. When he went back outside, he found the top of the generator on fire, as well as surrounding trees, according to police.

When the man attempted to extinguish the fire, he tossed burning sage and embers under the RV — where another gas canister was located, which ignited and began burning the RV. He then called 911.

“Negligence does not release a party from responsibility and consequences of an incident that occurs due to his/her actions,” read a statement from Stockton police.

Authorities said people should be aware of current fire conditions while recreating on public lands, and special precautions should be taken to prevent wildfires.

‘You will be held responsible’

Police also arrested four people accused of starting the Halfway Hill Fire, which has burned 11,637 acres south of Fillmore as of Friday.

That wildfire is only 15% contained and was started after four campers lit a campfire and then “left abruptly,” according to a probable cause statement. Road closures are still in effect around the blaze.

On Monday, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox promised that those who start wildfires in the state will face repercussions.

“You will be held civilly responsible and you may be held criminally responsible if you violate any laws in starting that fire,” he said.