SANTAQUIN — A pair of fast-growing wildfires in south of Provo has torched more than 68,000 acres, forcing evacuations of an estimated 5,000 people and threatening to grow rapidly in tinder-dry conditions, fire managers said Friday.

The Pole Creek Fire more than doubled in size overnight, growing to 54,000 acres, or about 84 square miles. It is 2 percent contained, fire officers announced Friday morning.

So far, only a fence has been damaged in the fire, but several homes and cabins were threatened, said Sgt. Spencer Cannon, spokesman for the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

A Type 1 fire crew took over command early Friday, indicating the blaze is a top priority. It is burning 3 miles from the smaller Bald Mountain Fire, which has consumed about 14,500 acres.

The flames at the conjuction of Utah, Juab and Sanpete counties threaten to merge, which could help or hinder firefighting efforts, depending on where they join, said Brook Chadwick, forest fire management officer with the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

Lightning sparked the Pole Creek Fire in Payson last week along Nebo Loop Road and dry winds fanned it, fire officials reported. Plumes of smoke could be seen billowing over a ridge in Santaquin early Friday morning, and smoke hung in the air in Lehi.

On Friday, the evacuation of 5,000 people remained in place in Woodland Hills and Elk Ridge cities, as well as the Covered Bridge community in Spanish Fork Canyon. Cannon said he did not know how many households were involved. Other evacuations have been ordered along U.S. 89 from the junction of U.S. 6 to Indianola in Sanpete County as flames moved east.

Firefighters were planning to attack the blazes from the air Friday morning before winds are expected to pick up, Cannon said. Crews from Salt Lake City, Unified fire, Draper, Lone Peak, Provo and West …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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