Homes evacuated in southern Utah because of Big Summit Fire; weather helps firefighters in northern Utah

Fire officials have evacuated homes in the Great Basin-area because of a more than 8,600-acre wildfire burning along the Nevada-Utah border.

The Big Summit Fire had burned 8,602 acres in Utah and Nevada on Saturday when officials called for evacuations in the Great Basin’s Hamlin Valley, which includes the Wilderness West subdivision in Iron County. Some roads were also closed.

The evacuation order was announced just before 4 p.m. The fire is 15% contained.

Also Saturday, fire officials announced restrictions that ban fireworks and any open fires on state lands and all unincorporated private lands in Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Tooele and Utah counties beginning July 22, ahead of the Pioneer Day holiday.

The order cited current and forecasted hot and dry weather conditions, and plentiful dry vegetation, in northern Utah.

The restrictions, which also prohibits smoking or welding outside among dry vegetation, are in place until further notice.

Yet, fire conditions were better in northern Utah compared to recently. A lull in windy conditions helped firefighters corral several new wildfires, all believed to be human caused.

Among the biggest is the 418-acre Big Hollow Fire, burning on a state wildlife management unit between the Wasatch County towns of Charleston and Daniel. As of Saturday, the fire was officially 22% contained, but officials said that blaze is winding down and the portion under containment is actually much higher.

“We are looking to demobilize units. If you drove up here, you wouldn’t even know there was a fire,” said Mike Eriksson of the state Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. “It got quiet last night. There was a fire in Cache County that was getting scary but they end up catching it. It’s eerily quiet for how hot and dry it has been.”

The Wasatch County fire started Wednesday and lightning has been ruled out as a cause. While it remained unknown how the fire started, Eriksson said Wasatch County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the cause and has taken witness statements.

Burning in neighboring Utah County is the Pole Canyon Fire. It was sparked Wednesday by heavy equipment and has scorched 488 acres near the Eagle Mountain neighborhood of White Hills, which had been under an evacuation advisory. As of Friday night, no homes were threatened and the fire was 65% contained.

Officials reported “erratic, swirling winds” there on Saturday that spun up dust devils.

“This is not smoke from active flames, nor a new fire,” fire officials said.

In southern Utah, authorities have asked the public for information about three youths seen driving in a white sedan near the spot where the Turkey Farm Road Fire was ignited by illegal fireworks on July 13. State officials have asked for help gathering more information on the suspect video.

(Photo courtesy the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands) Authorities released this image on Friday, July 17, 2020. Three teenagers accused of starting the July 13, 2020, Turkey Farm Road Fire near St. George were seen in this car that day.

At 12,000 acres, this one is Utah’s largest active wildfire, followed by the Veyo West and Big Summit fires, both burning in Utah’s southwest corner.

Firefighters are nearing full containment on the Veyo West fire, but much work remains to put it out and some structures remain at risk.

That destructive fire was 75% contained at 2,618 acres as of Friday night, according to fire information officer Kevin Abel of the Dixie National Forest. That fire, which destroyed a Veyo home and one outbuilding, hadn’t budged in the previous 48 hours and was showing little fire behavior. Parts of the national forest remained closed Saturday.

In two instances in northern Utah Friday, firefighters quick action fully contained two new wildfires before they could threaten homes.

Target shooting triggered a fire in national forest near Liberty, but Weber County and federal firefighters had that blaze controlled before it could spread beyond an acre. Then a hillside above Hyde Park caught fire, and that one was contained at around 20 acres with the help of retardant drops.

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