Lightning over Utah

Many areas of the Eastern Great Basin had lightning storms and passing rain showers yesterday; crews in southwestern and northern Utah were helped out a bit by light rainstorms. The Little Pine Fire, southwest of Enterprise on the Dixie National Forest, burned 2,100 acres and threatened about a dozen buildings. It’s burning in piñon-juniper, cheatgrass, and oak brush. A Type 3 team is assigned, and there’s currently zero containment.  Evacuations were in effect yesterday.

The Pinyon Fire this week evacuated dozens of homes in Eagle Mountain and threatened the town of Herriman. Today it’s still at 60 percent containment at 5,771 acres. Late last evening, 35 mph winds from a passing storm caused numerous flare-ups, but containment lines held. Engine crews worked through the night on hot spots and mop-up; today they’re focusing on securing lines and mopping up.

Firing operations along Tickville Road, Pinyon Fire near Herriman
Firing operations along Tickville Road, Pinyon Fire near Herriman

Gusty winds on Wednesday spread embers over the lines and more than doubled the size of the Pinyon Fire. It was about 60 percent contained yesterday, according to a report by the Salt Lake Tribune. Information Officer Kim Osborn said crews were mopping up as the fire continued creeping and smoldering. Fire managers were focused on keeping the fire away from a remote artillery training area on Utah National Guard property; hundreds of unexploded munitions are buried on the site.

On the DI Ranch Fire west of Utah Hill, gusty winds on Thursday shifted and pushed the fire from 75 percent containment back to about 50 percent. Last night it was back to 20 percent containment at 900 acres. The fire’s burning in brush and cheatgrass.

Wilderness Fires in Utah and Montana

The Dallas Canyon Fire, about 50 miles west of Salt Lake City, was mapped today at 43,610 acres. Ignited by lightning on July 27, the fire’s burning in the Cedar Mountain Wilderness Area southwest of the community of Delle. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the fire area includes sensitive habitat for sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, and wild burros — along with raptor nesting grounds.

Resources on the fire include about 360 firefighters, and Erik Haberstick’s team put the fire at 60 percent containment this morning.

Another wilderness fire, the Rapid Creek Fire in the Bob Marshall, took off yesterday. The Great Falls Tribune reported that the fire is 27 miles west of Augusta.

Rapid Creek Fire
The fire was reported at about noon on Sunday by two different lookouts. It was estimated at 3,000 acres late yesterday, burning in heavy timber and mountain pine beetle kill, and it grew to over 5,000 acres by this morning.

Dave Cunningham with the Lewis and Clark National Forest said an incident management team and air resources have been ordered; fire behavior has included sustained crown runs. The Rapid Creek Fire yesterday burned over the Continental Divide and into the Triple Divide Fire, then into the Elbow Pass Fire. Sheriff’s deputies and USFS personnel contacted cabin owners and others in the area and warned them that the fire could move toward the Benchmark Corridor.

The 700-acre Elbow Pass Fire in the Scapegoat started on July 12 southwest of Augusta, and the Triple Divide fire west of Augusta is at about 7 acres.  The complex is being managed as a suppression fire.

Air tanker veers off runway while attempting takeoff at Cedar City

A single engine air tanker (SEAT) veered off the runway while it was attempting to take off at Cedar City, Utah on July 12. There were strong winds at the time due to thunderstorms in the area. The SEAT, Tanker 896, apparently lost control due to the wind and exited the runway, but remained upright.

Our source told us that there were no injuries and that there was minimal obvious damage to the aircraft. However, it was removed from the airport on July 15 by the owner, who replaced it with another SEAT.

A SAFECOM report was filed, but it has not yet appeared on the web site.

Utah: Fatality found in evacuated area of Wood Hollow fire

The Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office released this information today about a fatality on the Wood Hollow fire south of Salt Lake City, north of Mt. Pleasant, Utah.


Wood Hollow Fire fatality

Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office

NEWS RELEASE — Wood Hollow Fire

Sheriff Brian Nielson

For immediate release

June 26, 2012/3:00 p.m.

Wood Hollow Fire claims one life in Sanpete County

Sanpete County Utah – Sanpete County Sheriff’s deputies and Sanpete County Search & Rescue entered the evacuated areas of the Wood Hollow Fire this morning for assessments and have found the body of one person. The individual has not been identified at this time. We ask for your patience as we work to identify this individual and notify the family as soon as we can.

The Sheriff’s Office offers its deepest sympathy to all who have suffered loss and is working as hard as it can with the other emergency responders.

Tuesday’s assessment was scheduled to assess the fire’s damages and try to determine when property owners could get back into their properties. More details will be released at a later time.

The Wood Hollow Fire, which started Saturday afternoon, continues to burn and has expanded to more than 39,000 acres. At last report the fire had been confirmed at 15 percent containment. Today, the east side of U.S. 89 had its evacuations lifted and residents in Fairview Ranchos were also let in. Sanpete County is leaving the evacuation orders in effect for the west side of Hwy 89. It is unknown if evacuations will be put in place again as the fire is now with approx two miles of the west side of U.S. 89.

The Sheriff’s Office continues to post updates to evacuations and other safety information at People may also follow the hashtag #woodhollowfire on Twitter.


“Dump” fire causing evacuations south of Salt Lake City

Dump fire, 1 pm June 22, 2012
Map of Dump fire 1 p.m., June 22, 2012, showing heat detected by satellites. Wildfire Today/MODIS

UPDATE at 5:49 p.m. MT, June 22, 2012

A type 2 Incident Management Team, Great Basin #5 with Wilde as Incident Commander, has been dispatched to the fire. At 5 p.m. @UtahFireInfo said the fire had burned 4,000 acres.


3:37 p.m. MT, June 22, 2012

I was just interviewed by KSL, a news radio station in Salt Lake City that wanted some general information about wildfires and fire behavior because a fire unfortunately named “Dump” is causing evacuations about 10 miles south of Salt Lake City. As you can see by the map, the fire is burning just west of Utah Lake on a mountain between the communities of Eagle Mountain and Sarasota Springs. From infrared imagery provided by a satellite, it appears to be approximately 3.0 by 1.6 miles, which works out to about 3,000 acres.

Reports from a nearby weather station indicate that there has been a strong 15 to 20 mph south to southwest wind with gusts up to 33 mph pushing the fire to the north and northeast, accompanied by relative humidity as low as 8 percent.

Approximately 500 homes have been evacuated and so far none have burned, according to Amy Iverson, the KSL news anchor that interviewed me at about 3:10 p.m. today.

3 Utah firefighters injured in truck rollover

Three firefighters from the Farmington (Utah) Fire Department were injured Wednesday night when their 22,000-pound military surplus vehicle rolled 70 feet down an embankment during what the department said was driver training. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, one firefighter was flown to a hospital and remained there Thursday with head injuries. The other two were transported by ground ambulance. One of them was released from the hospital Thursday morning.

The fire department, which is north of Salt Lake City, Utah (map) had just acquired the truck and planned to convert it into a water tender to be used on wildfires. At 9 p.m. the three firefighters were training to drive the truck in conditions they might find on a fire, and were on an unimproved narrow road. The driver failed to negotiate a tight turn and the truck went off the road, rolling three or four times as it tumbled down an embankment, ending up on it’s side. Two of the firefighters were ejected, in spite of wearing seat belts, which were the old lap belt style without shoulder restraints.