UPDATE: Uintah fire consumes 619 acres, still zero percent contained

Tuesday , September 05, 2017 - 8:40 AM

Standard-Examiner Staff

UPDATE: The Uintah Fire is now 5% contained. For the latest updates and what’s going on with the fire, follow our live blog for constant updates.

WEBER COUNTY — A wildfire sweeping through southern Weber County had destroyed six homes, consumed about 619 acres and led to about 1,000 people being evacuated as of about 2:10 p.m. Tuesday.

LIVE BLOG: Updates on Uintah fire evacuations, road closures, more

Map of known evacuation area included below

GALLERY: Photos from the scene of the fire

Emergency crews first responded to the grass fire at about 7:16 a.m., which started “just below the U” on the mountainside, Layton City Fire Marshall Doug Bitton said.  An unspecified number had been damaged, according to Weber Fire District.

The fire had resulted in no injuries as of about 11:30 a.m., Weber Fire District Chief Brandon Thueson said.

The fire was originally reported to be 1,200 acres in size, but was downgraded to 619 acres at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday after the area was mapped by GPS. 

At about 1:50 p.m., the evacuation order for South Weber was lifted, Weber Fire District tweeted. However, the order affecting the Uintah Highlands was still in place. More information about evacuation areas is included below.

However, at an afternoon press conference, Bitton stressed that South Weber residents should be prepared to evacuate again, if needed. More evacuations could be ordered throughout the night, he said.

Bitton also said residents of neighborhoods near the Uintah Highlands and South Weber should be prepared to evacuate today and throughout the night, if necessary.

As of about 2:10 p.m., the fire had consumed about 1,200 acres and was zero percent contained, according to a Facebook post from Weber County. More than 100 firefighters from agencies all over the area were fighting the blaze.

The cause of the fire had not been determined as of about 2:30 p.m., Bitton said.

EVACUATION AREAS AND ROAD CLOSURES

At about 1:50 p.m., the evacuation order for locations in South Weber had been lifted, Weber Fire District tweeted. However, the order was still in place for the Uintah Highlands neighborhoods. 

However, Bitton said residents of South Weber and areas near the Uintah Highlands should be prepared to evacuate, if needed. Evacuations could be ordered during the night, he said.

Weber County tweeted an updated map of evacuation areas at about 4:15 p.m. It is included below and reflected in our evacuation map, which you can see below.

The majority of people being evacuated from the area are being taken to Dee Events Center, which is located on Weber State University’s campus, according to Weber Fire District.

Thueson urged people to stay out of the evacuation areas, even to check on family members or property — when traffic comes through the areas, firefighters have to stop what they’re doing to focus on people’s safety instead of preventing the blaze from spreading.

"They're going to worry about lives first and property second,” he said.

At his afternoon press conference, Bitton said people getting off work who live in the evacuated areas should go to Dee Events Center. He said they should not, under any circumstances, return to their properties.

At about 10:50 a.m., the blaze had moved south and jumped over Interstate 84 and U.S. Highway 89, according to tweets from Layton City. 

Though part of I-84 was closed for part of the day, it is now open. U.S. Highway 89 was reopened at about 10 p.m. Tuesday, according to a tweet from Weber County.

Two elementary schools in the area of the fire were evacuated as a precaution.

South Weber Elementary School students were evacuated to Clearfield High School, where parents can pick them up by presenting a valid ID, Davis School District tweeted at 11:15 a.m. Students at Uintah Elementary School were evacuated to Dee Events Center, Weber School District tweeted.

Mountain Ridge Assisted Living’s residents were also evacuated as a precaution, the Utah Red Cross says. They were taken to Ridge Senior Center in Salt Lake City, the agency said.  

By early afternoon, Hill Air Force Base had canceled all “non-mission essential” outdoor activities because of smoke, base spokesman Micah Garbarino said. The base’s entry gate in Roy was closed.

HAFB sent five fire vehicles and 12 firefighters to the scene, Garbarino said, adding that base officials were continuing to monitor the fire as advances west.

Union Pacific — which has train tracks running through the scene of the fire — said rail ties in the area were going up in flames, spokesman Justin Jacobs said. Trains scheduled to head through Weber County wil likely be rerouted, he said. 

Jacobs said the company has been dealing with fires all over its western network this summer due to dry conditions.

In addition to the map, a written list of the areas where evacuation orders are still in place is included below.

  • Combe Road between U.S. Highway 89 and north to Woodland Drive.
  • E. 6500 South
  • Bybee Drive between Combe Road and Woodland Drive
  • Carriage Lane
  • E. 6425 South
  • S. 2800 East
  • Woodland Drive between Combe Road and Melanie Lane
  • Melanie Lane between Woodland Drive and 6100 South
  • 6100 South
  • S. 2950 East
  • 2850 East Street
  • 6200 South
  • S. 2900 East
  • E. 6025 South

HIGH WINDS HURTING EFFORTS TO FIGHT FIRE

High-speed, volatile winds that came out of the north Tuesday morning caused the fire to spread rapidly — and hindered effort to limit its spread.

Firefighters are trying to anticipate where the blaze will go next, but heavy winds and cross winds are making it difficult to do preventative work — as soon as structure protection is set up, the winds shift in a different direction, Weber County Commissioner Kerry Gibson said. He’s been in contact with emergency personnel all morning.

On top of creating unpredictable fire conditions, the wind kept helicopters from fighting the fire for part of the morning, Weber Fire District said. But as of about 12:50 p.m., nine aircraft were working to extinguish the blaze, including two helicopters and five fixed-wing aircraft, according to Weber Fire District.

At his Tuesday afternoon press conference, Bitton said aircrafts’ efforts were becoming much more effective as wind speeds slowed. 

Weber Fire District urged people not to fly drones in the area, which could interfere with efforts to fight the fire.

Agencies fighting the fire include Weber County Fire, South Weber Fire, Utah State Fire, the Utah National Guard and Davis County Fire are responding to the fire, according to Weber dispatch.

No power outages had been caused by the blaze as of about noon, and electricity had been rerouted to avoid areas impacted by the fire, Rocky Mountain Power spokeswoman Tiffany Erickson said. Two of the utility company’s transmission towers had been destroyed by the fire at that time.

Uintah Fire Department Chief Bill Pope said the fire has resulted in no restrictions on secondary water use.

VOLUNTEERING AND DONATIONS: HOW TO HELP

As of about 1:40 p.m., volunteers and food donations were not needed at the Dee Events Center, according to Weber State University spokeswoman Allison Barlow Hess. 

“With the amount of people here right now we have all the food and volunteers we need,” she said.

Those who would like to volunteer can go through the Utah Red Cross, according to Uintah Fire Department Chief Bill Pope. Go to the Utah Red Cross’ volunteer page for more information.

Monetary donations are also needed, Pope said. They can be sent in through the Utah Red Cross’ website and can be mailed to 2955 Harrison Blvd. in Ogden.

FEDERAL FUNDS APPROVED FOR FIGHTING UINTAH FIRE

Federal funds are on the way to help with fighting the Uintah fire, according to a news release from U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

The funds — which come from a Fire Management Assistance Grant — can be used to pay 75 percent of the state’s eligible firefighting costs, the release says. That includes things like, “expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; mobilization and demobilization activities; and tools, materials and supplied,” the release says.

This money will not be available to help home and business owners, the release says. It won’t cover other infrastructure damaged by the fire either, the release says.

MORE FROM THE SCENE OF THE FIRE

Updates from Standard-Examiner reporters at the scene of the fire, as well as Dee Events Center, are included below. 

Take a look at this gallery to see more pictures from the wildfire. If you have a fire photos you’d like to add to the gallery, email it to cityed@standard.net with information about where it was taken and who took the photo.

Here’s where you can see more of the photos, videos and information locals are sharing.

 

 

Contact digital producer Jacob Scholl at jscholl@standard.net or follow him on Twitter @Jacob_Scholl.

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