When Vernon resident Kristine Quarnberg found out Wednesday that her town could be evacuated because of an approaching fire, she didn't rush home to pack.
"Living in this area you're used to summer wildfires," Quarnberg said. "A lot of people here think it's very overblown."Still, staff from teams working on the Little Sahara fire were taking as many precautions as they could.
A finger from the fire extended into Tooele County, threatening the tiny town of Lofgreen and causing a some concern to Vernon officials, a town nine miles northwest of Lofgreen and about 35 miles south of Tooele.
Jon Shields, Vernon's fire chief, agreed that most residents weren't worried. "They want to know what's happened," he said. "They're not really worried, just concerned. In this community, we're pretty well prepared compared with other communities."
They have to be, considering Tooele Army Depot's chemical weapons depository is only 15 miles north.
A meeting was held by fire boss Rik Kajans at Quarnberg's store to brief city officials on the danger to the town.
"We confirmed priorities," Kajans said. "No. 1 is to make sure they're out of harm's way if something should happen.No. 2 is to have a plan to protect the values at risk in the event any of the communities are threatened by the fire."
The Little Sahara fire has burned about 45,000 acres, but crews estimate a full containment by Saturday.
Steve Jackson, BLM Vernon station manager, said that while the fire was being contained, gusty winds made things unpredictable.
"Fire behavior is extreme with these high winds," Jackson said. "The wind is not our friend."
While the fires are fought, Quarnberg keeps up a sort of "information central" for the town.
"Everyone calls here that wants to know anything," Quarnberg said. "We try to keep as informed as possible." But she believes the people of Vernon are staying put.
After a scary afternoon where the Soldier Pass fire burning on Lake Mountain jumped the road and threatened 10 homes, Mother Nature stepped in and cooled things down - for a while.
Uinta National Forest spokesman Loyal Clark said the light drizzle during the night helped bring the fire under 37 percent containment, but no one is ready to relax yet.
"We're looking at another day like yesterday with a little bit cooler temperatures and higher humidity, which helps," said Clark. "But once the sun comes out, that fire just pops back up. And if we get the winds, that'll bring back problems. Also the weekend is supposed to bring up the really high temperatures again so no one is willing to call it contained."
An air surveillance crew mapped the charred area on the mountain at 7,000 acres thus far.
Clark said a firebreak road has been bulldozed around the communications towers on the mountain top, protecting what are vital communications links for the valley.
Also, the fires on the north side of Israel's Canyon are secured, ensuring better protection for an explosives plant in the vicinity.
Wednesday afternoon, the fire raced down the mountainside to U-68 and jumped the road to the lakeside. U-68 was closed for a time due to the heavy smoke and fire danger, and homes along the lake front were evacuated.
A short time later, the road was reopened and the fire had retreated back up the hillside.
Some crews were pulled off at 7 p.m., said Clark, leaving a strike force of five engines.
Meanwhile, crews hope to contain the Sheep Rock fire by 6 p.m. Friday. The blaze, burning about 16 miles north of the Little Sahara fire, has charred 4,800 acres. Crews bulldozed a firebreak to prevent flames from spreading to a remote cabin, said Interagency Fire spokeswoman Sharon Knowlton.
The Railroad fire in Weber Canyon is also expected to be contained Friday night. The blaze, which has burned about 150 acres, was apparently ignited Tuesday by a spark from rail equipment, said Knowlton.
Crews are also making progress on the 11-day-old Pole Creek fire in Piute County. The blaze is 30 percent contained and officials hope high humidity will aid firefighting efforts. The wildfire has burned 4,800 acres of brush and timber about 15 miles west of Circleville.