BOUNTIFUL — Fire crews largely contained the Gun Range Fire as of late Saturday afternoon and many of the restrictions implemented because of it were eased, but firefighting efforts continued.
The fire on the mountainside between Bountiful and Centerville in Davis County extended to a 300-plus acre swath, and earlier Saturday the U.S. Forest Service said it had been 10% contained. Later in the day, though, UtahFireInfo, a coalition of Utah and federal forestry agencies, tweeted that it had spread to 321 acres in all and been 80% contained.
“A helicopter flew the fire for more accurate mapping which updated the acreage,” said the tweet.
The Forest Service said handcrews, teams of firefighters working side by side to build fire lines to control and contain fires, had been making “good progress” on the perimeter of the fire. As of Saturday the fire — which destroyed three homes and damaged eight others — consisted mainly of smoldering brush and tall grass.
Likewise, the city of Bountiful offered an upbeat assessment. “Information from the command staff meeting this morning: Great progress was made on the fire overnight by crews,” the city said in a Facebook post Saturday morning.
The fire started early Friday morning, apparently sparked by an abandoned campfire, and it led to the precautionary evacuation of some 400 homes in Bountiful and Centerville. Impacted Centerville residents were able to return home late Friday morning. The evacuation order in Bountiful, impacting about 240 residents, was lifted late Saturday morning, according to Kim Osborn, a U.S. Forest Service public information officer.
Though Bountiful-area evacuees were able to return to their homes, Osborn said only residents from the area would be permitted to enter the impacted neighborhoods. The evacuation area in northeastern Bountiful had extended north of 400 North and east of 900 East. Officials asked that others, including the curious, stay back. “We’re still working in the area,” Osborn said.
At the same time, Ward Canyon Road, which meanders up the mountain east from Bountiful, was to remain closed to the public as firefighters continued their work, probably until around 8 p.m. on Sunday, the Forest Service said. The fire extended onto Forest Service land in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
The city of Bountiful, meantime, asked the public to refrain from rubber-necking around the most heavily impacted neighborhood. “We have had requests from our neighbors near the houses that were lost to PLEASE NOT come to look at the houses at this time. Please respect the request at this time,” the city said in a tweet.
No injuries were reported due to the fire.
Notwithstanding the progress, firefighting efforts aren’t over. “Forest Service crews will continue to use air support and ground crews to fight the fire,” the city of Bountiful said in a Facebook post. At the same time, Tolman Park in Bountiful, used for firefighting efforts, was to remain closed to the public, probably until Monday morning, said the Forest Service.
The city reiterated that a campfire apparently sparked the fire, but said the probe continues. “Investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing but is believed to be due to an illegal campfire,” said the Facebook post.
Numerous agencies have aided in firefighting efforts, including teams from the Utah Department of Natural Resources, the South Davis Metro Fire Department and other agencies from across Weber, Davis and Salt Lake counties. Police from Bountiful and other agencies helped in monitoring the evacuation area.
Seven handcrews, three helicopters, multiple engines and other firefighting vehicles and around 180 people in all have aided in the effort, the Forest Service said.