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FOREST FIRE THREATENING BEAVER MOUNTAIN SKI AREA

SHARE FOREST FIRE THREATENING BEAVER MOUNTAIN SKI AREA

A forest fire that was started by lightning Tuesday morning spread through the Beaver Mountain ski area west of Bear Lake Wednesday.

Fire engines from Logan were spraying buildings at the ski resort with water and fire-retardant foam to protect structures while fire officials scrambled to find crews and fire bosses to tackle the blaze.Fire officials were not sure Wednesday morning whether the lightning struck in the ski area or on the adjacent Franklin Basin to the west.

The fire area is about 25 miles east of Logan and five miles west of Bear Lake at the top of Logan Canyon.

"The day lodge and the base facilities at the ski area have not been directly involved in the fire just yet," said Dick Kline, fire information officer at the Interagency Fire Center in Salt Lake City.

The Tuesday-morning fire had grown to 400 acres by evening and about 600 acres by Wednesday morning. Kline said officials are particularly concerned about the fire's potential to spread because it was much more active during the cool evening hours than is the norm for fires burning in heavy timber.

"They tried to work some people overnight, but they weren't real effective because of the way the fire kept moving," Kline said.

Groomed areas of the ski resort separate the fir and aspen trees that were burning Wednesday, but dry grass in the groomed areas was burning quickly and carrying sparks from burning trees in the upper areas of the ski resort.

About 75 percent of the fire area is on state-owned land with the other 25 percent on national forest land.

Smoke from the fire was noticeable in Logan on Wednesday morning. The Logan Canyon highway remained open, but "rubber-necking" by motorists passing the fire area was expected to impede traffic, Kline said.

Officials were still looking for crews to fight the fire. About 30 firefighters were involved in the initial attack Tuesday, some of whom were pulled away from the east Deweyville fire near Deweyville in Box Elder County.

Officials will likely request five or six more 20-member crews and a management team as the fire is expected to grow, possibly for several days, before firefighters can get the upper hand.

The east Deweyville fire flared up on private land and moved into the Wellsville wilderness area five miles east of Deweyville Saturday, burning a total of 240 acres in steep terrain.

Fire crews contained the blaze Sunday evening, but it jumped firebreaks and had burned 450 acres before it was contained again Wednesday evening. Firefighters expected to have the blaze completely under control Wednesday evening.

Crews were also battling a 150-acre fire on the east side of Bear Lake Wednesday near Cisco Beach. Lightning is also suspected in that fire.