Two wildfires in Utah are burning in steep, rugged terrain.
The Halfway Hill Fire is in the Fishlake National Forest two miles southeast of Fillmore east of Interstate 15. The activity on the fire Sunday was more moderate than the previous two days as the wind speeds lessened. It was mapped Sunday night at 10,417 acres. Most of the heat detected by the sensors on the aircraft was on the eastern side.
Residents of the Virginia Hills subdivision are still under an evacuation notice.
The Jacob City Fire has burned 4,094 acres 2 miles east of Stockton. When it was mapped at 10 p.m. Sunday it was very active on the northwest and southeast sides. As of Sunday evening no communities are imminently threatened, according to Utah Fire Info.
Halfway Hill Fire and Dry Creek Fire were reported about the same time on Friday, July 8
Firefighters are working on two fires in Central Utah that were reported Friday 14 minutes apart, separated by 28 air miles.
The Halfway Hill Fire spread rapidly about one mile east of Interstate 15, 2 miles southeast of Fillmore. On Friday the Millard County Sheriff’s Office ordered evacuations for the Virginia Hills subdivision southeast of Fillmore. Utah Fire Information reported Saturday morning it had burned 6,644 acres since it was reported at 3:13 p.m. July 8. At 12:30 p.m. on Saturday aircraft spotted working the fire included four single engine air tankers and two large RJ85 air tankers. They were reloading with retardant at Cedar City.
The blaze started while the relative humidity was 10 percent with a 15 mph wind gusting out of the southwest at up to 30 mph. Conditions are about the same Saturday afternoon.
The 1,200-acre Dry Creek Fire is 10 miles west of Interstate 15, 2 miles east of Oak City.
The police reported that fireworks is the most likely cause, but it is under investigation
Updated at 5:03 p.m. MDT July 4, 2022
The Deuel Creek Fire in the foothills east of Centerville, Utah was mapped Monday at 128 acres. Firefighting resources assigned include multiple helicopters and 7 engines for a total of 80 personnel; an additional 3 hand crews are en route.
Monday afternoon the fire was less active than it was during the night, but still has potential for growth with the strong winds and low humidity. The fire is between Deuel Creek and Parrish Creek.
12:51 p.m. MDT July 4, 2022
A fire that was reported around midnight Sunday night resulted in the evacuation of about 89 homes on the east side of Centerville, Utah. It started near Center Street and Firebreak Road north of Bountiful. The evacuations were later lifted.
Fire authorities estimate it has burned approximately 100 acres, mostly on a steep slope 10 miles north of Salt Lake City.
“All indications are that this fire was human caused, the most likely source being fireworks,” wrote the Centerville Police Department on Twitter at 5:50 a.m. Monday. “We will be working with fire investigators to determine the cause.”
Much of Western Utah, including the greater Salt Lake City Area, has been under a Red Flag Warning Sunday and Monday for single-digit humidity and strong winds.
A Type 3 Incident Management Team will assume command of the fire Monday morning.
Regarding the tweet below, Spencer J. Cox is the governor of Utah.
This barbecue in Centerville might be a fun one to show up to, since nothing was done about fireworks in the state in the middle of a drought. pic.twitter.com/QHhAHvcJt1
An escaped prescribed fire is being investigated as the original cause
Updated at 6:51 a.m. MDT June 20, 2022
The Left Fork fire continued to spread to the northeast Sunday night in the Dixie National Forest in Southern Utah. When it was mapped at 9 p.m. Sunday it had burned approximately 2,600 acres. At that time it was about 2 miles west of the 87 road and Bryce Canyon National Park.
9:50 p.m. MDT June 19, 2022
The Left Fork Fire in Southwest Utah has taken off again after being dormant for about a month on the Dixie National Forest. It was first detected May 9. On May 10 the Forest Service said it ignited from material still burning from a prescribed fire conducted April 7, 2022. On May 11, 12, and 13 the daily updates about the wildfire posted by the Forest Service stated it was “human caused.” The escaped fire burned 97 acres in early May.
Apparently undetected smouldering material on or under the ground, such as stumps, duff, or tree roots, must have continued burning for weeks after the prescribed fire, and later after the spread of the 97-acre wildfire was stopped. Follow up monitoring of both events either did not occur or was inadequate to detect the still burning fires. The strong winds on June 18 may have fanned it back into an active burning condition, and it spread across a fireline, or hot embers were blown outside the perimeter into receptive fuels.
On June 18 the fire began spreading again pushed by strong winds. Utah Fire Information said that day it was estimated at 300 to 500 acres. Sunday afternoon, June 19, it had grown to 600 to 700 acres in rugged terrain, putting up a huge smoke plume affecting the air quality in eastern Utah and southwest Colorado.
The original cause of the fire is still listed as “human caused.” There are dozens of ignition sources that cause wildland fires. Saying it is caused by humans only eliminates two — volcano and lightning — and both could be ruled out very quickly.
Sunday afternoon the Left Fork Fire was spreading to the northeast and was about 2 miles west of Bryce Canyon National Park, 7 miles east of Highway 89, and 20 miles south of Panguitch; it had reached Blubber Creek drainage. It is burning between 8,000 and 9,000 feet above sea level.
The area was under a Red Flag Warning Sunday for relative humidity in the teens and 20 mph southwest winds gusting at 35 to 40 mph. The strong winds kept helicopters and fixed wing aircraft grounded, unable to assist firefighters on the ground.
The NWS spot weather for Monday calls for 70-72 degrees, 10-12 percent relative humidity, and 5 to 15 mph winds out of the west shifting to southwest. Tuesday will be about the same except the wind will be out of the southeast at 10-20 mph in the afternoon.
A Color Country Type 3 Incident Management Team will assume command of the incident Sunday evening.
The map below shows the location of the Left Fork Fire after the spread was temporarily stopped around May 11, 2022.
About a week after the first attempted suppression of the Left Fork Fire the US Forest Service announced May 20 in a press release that a “pause” was in effect for all prescribed fire operations on National Forest System lands. The reason given was “because of the current extreme wildfire risk conditions in the field…while we conduct a 90-day review of protocols, decision support tools, and practices ahead of planned operations this fall,” Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said in the statement. At the time several other prescribed fires had recently escaped in addition to the Left Fork incident.
More accurate mapping Sunday found that the Parley’s Canyon Fire east of Salt Lake City has burned 619 acres, much lower than the earlier estimate. Firefighters reported at about 2 p.m. that the spread of the fire has been “minimal” so far on Sunday.
7:37 a.m. MDT August 15, 2021
After sunset on Saturday the spread of the Parley’s Canyon Fire slowed after an aggressive attack by firefighters from the air and on the ground. Sunday morning fire authorities said night crews reported there was little overnight growth. There is no official accurate mapping yet but they estimate it has burned 1,500 acres.
The fire is east of Salt Lake City on the south side of Interstate 80, 10 miles east of I-215 between Lambs Canyon Road and Summit Park. It is approximately 4 miles west of Kimball Junction and 9 miles northwest of Park City.
The Northern Utah Type 3 Incident Management Team has assumed command of the 120 personnel on scene. Approximately 2,000 structures are threatened.
The weather forecast for the fire area Sunday could be concerning for firefighters. The elevation in the fire area ranges from 6,500 to over 8,000 feet. For the higher slopes the prediction is for 10 mph winds out of the west beginning at 9 a.m. increasing after noon to 14 mph from the northwest. The relative humidity will be around 20 percent with the temperature in the high 70’s at 8,000 feet. There will be 50 percent cloud cover decreasing to 10 percent after 3 p.m. After sunset the wind will slow to 7 mph but will shift to come out of the southeast after 11 p.m.
The video below shows a retardant drop by a single engine air tanker and one by Bomber 210, a 737 on loan from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service in Australia.
Interstate 80 at the Parley’s Canyon Fire east of Salt Lake City has reopened in both directions, but with lane restrictions.
The Parley’s Canyon Fire spread rapidly after it started Saturday at about 3 p.m. on the south side of Interstate 80, 10 miles east of I-215. The fire is between Lambs Canyon Road and Summit Park.
The US Forest Service reported at 3:20 p.m. Saturday that I-80 was closed in both directions. At that time the aircraft responding included 2 Very Large Air Tankers, 4 Large Air Tankers, 6 Single Engine Air Tankers, helicopters, and numerous ground resources from state and federal agencies.
Utah Fire Information said at about 4:45 p.m. MDT the fire had burned an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 acres. The areas under evacuation orders included Summit Park, Pine Brook, Lambs Canyon, and Mill Creek affecting 6000-8000 homes. They said the fire was caused by a malfunctioning catalytic convertor which ejected hot particles along the highway. The photo above appears to show at least two origin locations which is consistent with that type of incident.
A Type 2 Incident Management Team has been requested, but that has to be approved first by the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group in Boise under a new policy created July 18. A Type 3 IMT was ordered earlier.
The satellite photo above taken at 6:15 p.m. MDT Monday shows the three large wildfires in northwest Colorado were very active at that time, with large plumes of smoke blowing off to the southeast.
10:16 a.m. MDT June 21, 2021
Strong winds on Sunday caused four wildfires in northwest Colorado and northeast Utah to grow substantially. They are all in mountainous areas between 7,000′ and 9,400′. The three fires in Colorado listed here were all described as exhibiting extreme fire behavior. It is early in the year to have multiple large fires in Colorado. They are all in remote areas with difficult access and have the potential to continue to expand.
According to information available Monday morning there were a total of 84 personnel assigned to the four fires, which included one hand crew. With nearly 8,000 already committed to numerous fires in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and other states, it could cause a person to wonder about the availability of firefighting resources as we get deeper into the traditional fire season.
Oil Springs Fire
The largest of the four fires we’re looking at today is the 5,000-acre Oil Springs Fire in Colorado which has prompted evacuations. It has forced the closure of Highway 139 43 miles north of Grand Junction and 26 miles south of Rangely. Structures and oil and gas infrastructure are threatened. It is burning at elevations up to 7,400 feet. Winds gusting at 25 to 39 mph Sunday while the relative humidity was in the single digits resulted in the fire spreading several miles to the southeast and crossing Highway 139. A Red Flag Warning is in effect for the area just south of the fire. The wind is expected to decrease Monday but the RH will be in teens in the afternoon. Resources assigned to the fire Sunday evening included 3 engines, no hand crews, and no helicopters for a total of 20 personnel. A Type 2 Incident Management Team has been ordered. There are two other smaller fires 8 to 10 miles east of the Oil Springs Fire.
The Sylvan Fire is burning above 9,000 feet 13 miles south of Eagle, Colorado just west of Sylvan Lake. The strong wind on Sunday pushed it about two miles to the southeast while exhibiting extreme fire behavior. Using early Monday morning heat sensing data from a satellite it appears to have grown to approximately 800 acres. As of Sunday evening there were no firefighting resources on the fire.
The West Fire is 41 miles southeast of Rock Springs, Wyoming on the Wyoming-Colorado border three miles east of the Utah border. It is burning at elevations up to 9,400 feet. The early Monday morning heat sensing data indicates it has burned about 1,700 acres. Structures, oil and gas infrastructure, and sage grouse habitat are threatened. Resources assigned to the fire Sunday evening included 1 hand crew, 3 fire engines, and 1 helicopter for a total of 64 personnel.
The lightning-caused Sego Fire is in a very remote area of Utah 52 miles east of Price in rugged, difficult to access terrain. Smoke from the fire is very visible on the satellite photo at the top of this article. Heat sensing data indicates it had burned approximately 500 acres by early Monday morning.