Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 1:48 PM
PRICE— Firefighters worked feverishly to control several wildfires burning in Utah, including a blaze near Delphi that has forced the evacuation of several communities.
The 70-square-mile Clay Springs Fire was threatening about 75 structures and had destroyed one cabin and three outbuildings.
Several communities have been evacuated, but residents of Oak City and Fool Creek were allowed to return to their homes, authorities said late Thursday night.
Investigators believe that the 45,000-acre blaze was human-caused but were still probing the incident.
At least six firefighters have suffered injuries in the various blazes, and one man was found dead in an evacuation area while authorities surveyed the damage.
The Wood Hollow Fire in Sanpete County had also grown to about 70 square miles. It was about 25 percent contained Thursday night after destroying at least 56 structures.
Officials couldn’t immediately say how many of the burned structures were homes, but they expected the number to rise considerably as they continue their assessment of the fire-ravaged area between Fountain Green and Fairview and north across the Utah County line.
An evacuation order for the roughly 1,200 residents of Fairview was lifted.
Authorities still have not released the identification of a man whose body was found Tuesday morning in an evacuation zone.
Elsewhere in the state, the New Harmony Fire near St. George that started Wednesday afternoon had grown to nearly 2,000 acres by Thursday. Authorities said it was 60 percent contained.
Fire officials said eight structures have been destroyed and an undetermined number of residents near Bumblebee have fled their homes, while evacuation orders elsewhere around the blaze had been lifted. One firefighter there suffered burns and was treated and released, said fire spokesman Nick Howell.
The fire was burning about three miles north of Zion National Park, prompting park officials to briefly close a canyon Wednesday popular with hikers known as the Kolob section. Park officials re-opened the area Thursday.
Officials said there was no containment on the Seeley Fire, which has forced evacuations in Clear Creek, Hiawatha, Wattis and Scofield, including about 100 girls at a camp and a group of Boy Scouts. The blaze had scorched more than 15,000 acres of spruce in the heart of Manti-La Sal National Forest on Thursday and was threatening some mountain communities.
"Our forests are very thick, overgrown," said fire spokesman Brandon Jensen. "We haven’t had a good, solid fire in this area for 100 years."
About 100 firefighters were working the blaze, with 200 more called in late Thursday as the fire continued to spread.
"It’s hard to access and hard to fight. We’re getting some air support," Manti-La Sal National Forest spokeswoman Rosann Fillmore said.
The Church Camp Fire, burning about 20 miles south of Duchesne, has charred about 5,400 acres and was 10 percent contained Thursday night.
Officials have evacuated about 30 people in nearby Argyle Canyon. The blaze has destroyed about 12 structures.
Fire spokeswoman Robyn Broyles said the blaze is burning in a "mosaic pattern," which makes it more difficult to predict and contain.
Fire spokesman Jason Curry said the multiple blazes have put the state "way ahead of schedule" this fire season.
"Right now we’re operating near full capacity," Curry said, adding that fire officials have called in reinforcements from across the West. "We haven’t had the need for that level of fire management, expertise and capacity for several years."
Phillips reported from Salt Lake City. Associated Press writer Brian Skoloff also contributed to this report.
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