Crews control blaze above Farmington

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:19 PM

Andreas Rivera

FARMINGTON — Fire crews are contending with yet another brush fire, but seemed to have kept it under control and away from homes by Saturday evening.

The fire began Friday night near 100 North and Firebreak Road on the mountainside facing Farmington. Crews worked throughout the night to keep the blaze above a fire line and off private property.

The U.S. Forest Service took command over containing the fire. Crews painted a box of fire retardant around the blaze, which had burned about 58 acres and was 50 percent contained as of Saturday evening, Fire Information Officer Kim Osbourne said. All active flame points were extinguished, but helicopters were still dumping water on smoldering hot spots.

It is unknown how exactly it started, but investigators believe it was human-caused. Five individuals were questioned in connection with the fire. Investigators said they do not think arson was involved.

While the flames and smoke die down, Osbourne said the fire would not be fully contained Saturday night and crews will continue managing it into today.

Fire managers across Utah were keeping a close eye on the weather Saturday as crews continued battling several blazes that have destroyed more than a dozen homes.

The largest, called the Patch Springs Fire, had burned about 51 square miles as of midday Saturday and destroyed about 10 homes in the community of Willow Springs, officials said. It was 20 percent contained.

“We have some thunder cells that are starting to build over the area,” said fire spokeswoman Joanna Wilson, adding that firefighters were concerned storms could bring another round of erratic winds and more lightning.

The Patch Springs Fire was sparked by lightning Aug. 10 and was relatively tame until Friday, when shifting winds pushed it over state Highway 199 and it exploded in size. Flames raced through Willow Springs, forcing sudden evacuations of homes there and in the small community of Terra, as well as the Clover Springs campground.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Wilson said.

The campground remained closed Saturday, but residential evacuations were being lifted. Highway 199 remained closed.

“We’ve got our firefighters out there on the highway,” Wilson said. “We don’t want a lot of people wandering in that area at this moment.”

Utility lines also were damaged, and crews were working to restore electricity to residents in the Skull Valley area, she said.

There was no estimate of when the fire might be fully contained.

Elsewhere, crews reported good progress battling the Rockport 5 Fire near Park City. Eight homes were destroyed earlier in the week. That fire has burned about 3 square miles and was 58 percent contained Saturday, said spokeswoman Julie Booth. Evacuations likely would remain in place for the small communities of Rockport Estates and Rockport Ranches until Monday afternoon, she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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