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Winds fan two wildfires near Cedar City threatening structures

A 400-acre wildfire continues to burn on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, after firefighters were forced to withdraw from the flames due to high wind gusts.
A 400-acre wildfire continues to burn on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, after firefighters were forced to withdraw from the flames due to high wind gusts.
Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands

CEDAR CITY — About 20 structures were under threat Wednesday night as a 400-acre fire sparked by a lightning strike continued to burn about 13 miles southwest of Cedar City.

The fire was first reported early Wednesday at 50 acres, but firefighters were forced to withdraw when high winds made the conditions unsafe.

"Wind gusts have been reaching 40 miles an hour out there," said Cigi Burton, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman. "Our priority right now is firefighter safety. That's always our No. 1."

A second blaze roared to life later that afternoon, about two miles south of the initial fire, and grew to about 50 acres, Burton said.

Bubblebee Ridge Road was closed as a precaution. She also advised motorists to stay off of state Route 56.

Crews were working to create firebreaks around the perimeter of the fire, but they won't be able to start directly attacking the flames until Thursday, when winds should die down, Burton said.

The 20 structures under threat, which included a variety of homes and outbuildings, were about 3 miles north of the fire as of late afternoon. Burton said an evacuation order had not been enacted, but authorities were watching to see whether the flames got much closer.

"The residents there are being asked to sign up for the Iron County reverse 911 system" in case fire officials need to order evacuations, Burton said. The system sign-up is available at IronCounty.net.

Email: kmckellar@deseretnews.com

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