2 Utah towns ordered to evacuate as fire explodes to 7,500 acres

SPANISH FORK — Thousands of residents in Woodlands Hills and Elk Ridge have been ordered to evacuate as the Pole Creek Fire crested a nearby peak and threatened homes below late Thursday afternoon.

Ignited by lightning last week along the Nebo Loop Road, warm, dry and windy weather has fueled the Pole Creek Fire to more than 7,500 acres, fire officials reported. The blaze is zero percent contained.

Late Thursday afternoon, residents of Woodlands Hills and Elk Ridge cities, as well as the Covered Bridge community, in Spanish Fork Canyon were told to evacuate.

Homes have also been evacuated in Covered Bridge community in Spanish Fork Canyon and along U.S. 89 from the junction of U.S. 6 to Indianola in Sanpete County as flames move east. U.S. 89 is also closed in both directions in that area, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.

“The Pole Creek Fire has reached Santaquin Peak, putting them in greater danger,” Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon tweeted. “Evacuees needing shelter or assistance can gather at Salem Hills High School in Salem.”

People living in areas of Spanish Fork south of Powerhouse Road have also been told to prepare to leave their homes should the need arise.

The fire started Sept. 6 in the Spanish Fork Ranger District in Juab County.

The Nebo Loop Road and Nephi Canyon Road are also closed at the turnoff from state Route 132 in Juab County while firefighters battle the blaze.

Thursday afternoon, Cannon estimated that about 40 homes along U.S. 89 were in the evacuation area but a “number” of them were unoccupied.

“We tried to get (residents) out as quick as we could, and I think most of them were gone in 30, 35 minutes,” Cannon said.

However, one resident refused to leave, he said.

“It’s not uncommon to have somebody who says, ‘No, this is my castle, I’m not leaving,'” Cannon said.

Cannon said the man told officials if they returned later, he still wouldn’t leave.

“There’s good reason why fire officials make the decision to evacuate. And the reason they do that is because it’s dangerous to them. And if people choose to stay, and they get caught up in the fire and they call for help, then you have to take resources away from the fire to try to help these people,” Cannon said.

“We just tell them that it’d be a really, really good idea if you left.”

Officials reported zero containment of the fire Thursday afternoon.

“Rapid fire growth to the north and east is expected to continue with forecasted high winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures over the next few days,” state fire officials said in a daily update on the fire.

High winds Thursday afternoon prevented firefighters from attacking the fire from the air.

“Fire situation is changing quickly,” state fire officials said.

A Type 1 fire crew is expected to take over command of the fire on Friday, officials said.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox — who has often tweeted about fires this summer, including voicing frustration about a controlled burn near his hometown of Fairfield that got …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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