MAPLETON — Evacuation orders were lifted for the roughly 211 homes near Mapleton Tuesday afternoon as crews continued to battle the Ether Hollow Fire.
Evacuations in the Hobble Creek, Springville and Mapleton areas were lifted Tuesday afternoon and were instead moved to a “pre-evacuation” status, Utah Fire Info tweeted. Whiting Campground remains closed.
However the fire remained 0% contained Tuesday night as crews worked around the perimeter of the 1,000-acre blaze. Despite some rain in the area, officials warned that conditions could rapidly deteriorate.
“We realize this is longer than anticipated and hope residents understand the delay in getting aircraft in the air. We certainly appreciate the cooperation of our evacuated residents. Residents within the evacuation zone will remain in an advisory state. Please understand that once the wet grass dries that it is possible for further fire activity. Maple Canyon will remain closed,” Mapleton police announced.
“It’s a little hectic, a little scary,” said Brad Johnson who, by his estimation, lives roughly a half mile from where the hillside was burning Tuesday morning.
“When the helicopters were coming in, dropping water, it looked like maybe it was going to be OK,” he said. “But when the winds really picked up, and the flames got huge, that’s when neighbors started coming over and asking if they could help get us out. Everybody was anxious to get out of here.”
The fire, believed to be started by target shooters, had burned approximately 1,000 acres by Monday night. Both the upper and lower sections of the Grind Stone community up Hobble Creek Canyon were evacuated, according to fire officials. Maple Canyon and Whiting Campground were also evacuated, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is the second fire in the past couple days that’s been started by target shooting. It’s completely preventable,” said Kait Webb, spokeswoman for the Ether Hollow Fire. “With the conditions that we have in Utah right now, it’s really important that the public helps us out and is being very careful with any of those actions.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service is continuing to look for whomever lit a series of fires in the Manti-La Sal National forest on Saturday. Forest officials have now confirmed 14 ignition points between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. along Skyline Drive between South Tent Mountain and Potter’s Canyon.
“These were intentionally set fires, not caused by dragging chains, abandoned campfires, etc.,” Manti-La Sal Forest spokeswoman Samantha Stoffregen said in a prepared statement on Tuesday. “There has been no growth from the existing fires, all the containment lines are holding and crews continue to monitor the burn areas.”
Anyone with information on who started the fires can call the U.S. Forest Service tip line at the 775-355-5337.