A wildfire caused by human activity ignited Tuesday near East Canyon State Park, threatening scattered ranch homes and nearby power lines.
The East Canyon Fire, which started around 10:30 on Tuesday morning, is burning along Utah State Route 66 outside of the park. As of 8 p.m. on Tuesday, the fire had grown to about 500 acres, said Fire Marshal Dave Rich with the Morgan County Fire Department, in a text message. Officials believe the blaze was caused when a piece of heavy machinery, a track hoe, hit a rock with its tracks.
Ten homes have already been evacuated, and the Utah Department of Transportation stated on Twitter that the fire has shut down a portion of Utah State Route 66 “in both directions between the SR-65 Junction and the west side of East Canyon Reservoir.”
The fight against the fire was visible Tuesday afternoon from SR-66 and SR-65. Helicopters flew down to East Canyon Reservoir to fill containers with water before heading for the smoky hills. Planes flew low to the ground to drop red flame retardant on the flames.
Stephen Workman was evacuated from his home in a rural part of Morgan County on Tuesday afternoon because of the fire. By Tuesday evening, the wind had shifted the flames farther from his house. Workman said he was hoping to get home to water his flowers and put his cats inside before predators could threaten them.
His brother, Swan Workman, lives on the same property about a mile away. Since his home was farther from the flames, he didn’t leave it on Tuesday. But he did pack up his belongings with the help of friends in case the fire came closer. One of Swan’s friends brought over a trailer in case his cats, dogs and goats needed to be taken to safety.
Swan Workman said the fire didn’t scare him because it was something he had come to expect by living in the desert during a drought.
“We live in fire country, so if you live out here, you just kinda gotta be ready for not if, but when,” he said.
As of Tuesday evening, there are five active wildfires burning in Utah: the Goat Springs Fire, the Bennion Creek Fire, the Mammoth Fire and the Bear Fire, which started at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Carbon County. That fire remains under investigation and had grown to at least 500 acres and threatened two structures by Tuesday evening, Utah Fire Info tweeted.
On Tuesday night, the Mammoth Fire in Garfield County and the Bennion Creek Fire in Utah County remained at 0% containment and are at 566 and 700 acres, respectively. The Goat Springs Fire is 95% contained at 444 acres, and the 19-acre Turner Park Fire was put out, according to a map of active wildfires in the state.