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Battle continues against southern Utah Saddle Fire; Box Elder blaze under control

PINE VALLEY, Washington County — Crews in southern Utah continued efforts Sunday to defend the town of Pine Valley against the growing Saddle Fire, while full containment was reported at a smaller blaze in Box Elder County.

Started by lightning on June 13 in Dixie National Forest just 2 ½ miles outside the small town, the Saddle Fire grew to 1,234 acres into Sunday morning, officials reported. Fueled by underbrush and downed logs, the fire is making its way through Lloyd and Forsyth canyons where steep, rocky slopes make access difficult and dangerous for firefighters.

"With the fire burning in areas filled with unnecessary risk and hazards to firefighters, fire managers believe a significant moisture event is needed for multiple days to extinguish the blaze," according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service on Sunday.

With 675 firefighters now assigned to the fire, crews Sunday focused on dropping water directly on the fire to slow its progress while spreading retardant along the ridges of Saddle Mountain.

There were no injuries or incidents at the fire Sunday, according to a spokesman.

As many as 500 residences and 500 additional buildings are threatened by the fire. No mandatory evacuations are currently in effect, though a voluntary evacuation order has been handed down and those who choose to stay are advised to remain ready to leave if necessary.

The Pine Valley Recreation Area in Dixie National Forest remains closed, and visitors looking to come to Pine Valley have been warned to avoid the area.

Meanwhile, the Peplin Fire burning south of Kelton, Box Elder County, was fully contained by 6 p.m. Sunday.

The fire burned 6,468 acres since it ignited Friday evening.

Police said the fire was started by a camper who was cooking on a charcoal grill when the wind came up and tipped the barbecue over, setting the dry grass ablaze. One person was injured while attempting to put out the fire before fire crews arrived, police said.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com

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