A forest fire that initially burned about 15 acres Monday at Fishlake National Forest had exploded to 2,000 acres by Friday, prompting officials to change their strategy from "confinement" to a more active "containment."
The fire is burning in rugged terrain in the Pole Creek area about seven miles west of Circleville in Piute County. "It has consumed aspen, white fir and sagebrush," said Fishlake National Forest spokeswoman Linda Jackson.Crews have doused about 35 percent of the blaze, but officials don't know when the fire will be entirely extinguished.
Weather changes Friday will likely determine increases in fire activity. Winds were expected to blow from the south with humidity dropping.
Jackson said some firefighters from the Fishlake Forest have worked along the perimeters in an effort to contain the flames, and officials Wednesday enlisted two additional 20-member firefighting teams.
Officials initially used a "confinement" strategy, choosing natural barrier and only observing the blaze because of concerns of placing firefighters in the steep terrain.
But when flames spread and reached more moderate terrain Tuesday, the strategy was changed to "containment."
Officials of the Dixie, Fishlake and the Wasatch-Cache national forests, as well as state and Bureau of Land Management personnel, are working to contain the fire.
The blaze forced the closure Wednesday of U-153 at the Mount Holly Junction. The road will be closed indefinitely, said Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Les Jester.
For information, call Rob Irons or Cathy Chambless at 533-4128.
Elsewhere in the state, at least two lightning-caused fires from Thursday night's storm are still burning in Utah County, but overnight rains knocked the blazes down before they got out of control.
A 20-person crew from Utah County, Uinta National Forest and several cities is still battling a 40-acre fire on Lake Mountain in south Utah County. The blaze is actually two fires burning together, said Loyal Clark, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman.
Rain and lack of winds aided the firefighters' cause.
A second fire is burning on 25 acres on West Mountain, Clark said. The blaze, called the Payson Racetrack Fire, was expected to be contained Friday.