UINTAH, Weber County — A downed power line is being blamed for causing the Uintah Fire that destroyed three homes and damaged two others this week.
Weber County officials announced Friday that a power line sparked the wildfire covering roughly one square mile. The blaze was 85 percent contained, and fighting it has cost $849,000 so far, the county reported.
Rocky Mountain, which operates the line, is cooperating with county and state officers to investigate and battle the fire, the utility said in a prepared statement. It also has launched its own investigation and wasn't ready to release any details Friday, said spokeswoman Tiffany Erickson.
"We express our sympathies to the families harmed by the fire at this difficult time," the statement said, praising safety officers and firefighters "who have worked tirelessly to prevent the spread of this fire."
The blaze started Tuesday morning and quickly spread out of control due to strong winds in Weber Canyon. At its peak, more than 900 residents were evacuated from the Uintah Highlands neighborhood.
The last evacuation order was lifted at 7 p.m. Thursday.
A survey of the damage Thursday and Friday revealed three homes were gutted and two others were damaged. Nine other buildings, including sheds, outbuildings and one "mixed commercial" structure also were damaged; four were destroyed, the Weber Fire District posted on Facebook late Friday.
Ten engines and 50 firefighters monitored the hillside, where embers were smouldering Friday, and also battled hot spots along I-80, where the fire tore into sage brush and cottonwoods.
Crews are expected to remain on scene until Sunday afternoon, when fire managers will re-evaluate, Weber County Fire Marshal Brandon Thueson said.
County officials have asked the public to stay out of the Uintah Highlands neighborhood unless they live there. They were planning to bring dumpsters near homes for trash and green waste created by the fire.