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2 Large Fires Burn in Utah as Arizona Blaze Fades

July 08, 2002|From Reuters

SALT LAKE CITY — Firefighters in bone-dry Utah battled two large blazes on the state's eastern edge that threatened homes and natural gas wells, while Arizona fire crews nearly contained the state's worst wildfire, fire officials said Sunday.

The large fires and four smaller blazes have charred more than 116,000 acres across Utah since late last month, fire officials said.

A 13,500-acre, wind-driven fire burning eight miles south of the Utah-Wyoming line in Wasatch-Cache National Forest was 45% contained Sunday afternoon, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Kathy Hardy.

High humidity and light rains slowed the blaze's spread over the holiday weekend, but wind and high temperatures forecast for today brought worries that the fire would jump hard-won fire lines on the high-elevation slopes, Hardy said.

The fire erupted June 28 beside the east fork of the Bear River and quickly spread through the tinder-dry slopes of lodgepole pines, sub-alpine fir and ash trees, Hardy said.

Walls of flames quickly reached 150 feet high, forcing the evacuation of a nearby Boy Scout camp and 500 vacation homes, Hardy said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

About 200 miles to the south, extremely rugged terrain and record-high temperatures hampered firefighters' efforts to control a 74,500-acre blaze near the Four Corner resort of Moab.

The lightning-spawned fire was 22% contained Sunday afternoon, but fire officials did not say when they thought it would be fully contained. The blaze destroyed an outbuilding and threatened five ranches Sunday.

Firefighters shut off 20 to 30 natural gas wells in the fire's path Saturday, but the area remained closed to the public, according to fire officials.

In Arizona, firefighters expected to contain the largest wildfire in state history by Sunday evening, said fire information spokeswoman Tammi Woodrum.

The combined Rodeo-Chediski fire consumed more than 468,000 acres and destroyed 426 homes and other structures, Woodrum said.

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