Wildfires continue to burn across the West, choking parts of Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho in smoke and temporarily raining ash down on Salt Lake City residents.
In Utah, three major fires broke out over the weekend, resulting in moderate air quality across the state expected to linger for several days.
And on Monday, officials with the Great Basin Coordination Center warned that fire conditions could worsen as the state copes with a stretch of hot temperatures, historic drought and one of the windiest summers in Utah history.
Fires in Utah
Jacob City Fire: On Saturday at about 2:30 p.m., the Jacob City Fire was reported in Soldier Canyon and Dry Canyon after officials say a generator exploded.
Both canyons were evacuated and are closed to anyone other than emergency crews.
The fire produced a large column of smoke visible across the Salt Lake Valley, followed by widespread reports of ash falling along the Wasatch Front. Air quality in Salt Lake County veered into the “unhealthy” range Saturday night.
#JacobCityFire reached 14% containment, mapped at 3,766 acres. Fire managers utilized retardant to slow the progression, allowing crews to begin more direct attack along the fire's edge. Some growth occurred on the southwest corner in the afternoon, putting up a column of smoke. pic.twitter.com/ACDtdTCDZd— Utah Fire Info (@UtahWildfire) July 11, 2022
Strong winds and dry conditions caused the fire to swell from about 2,000 acres to nearly 4,000 by Sunday.
As of Monday morning, crews estimate the fire to be at about 3,776 acres and 14% contained.
Halfway Hill Fire: Discovered at about 2:15 p.m. on Friday, the Halfway Hill Fire has burned about 10,140 acres just east of I-15 in Millard County and prompted the evacuation of the Virginia Hills subdivision, southeast of Fillmore.
The cause is under investigation, but Millard County sheriff’s deputies arrested four people Saturday in connection to the fire.
The 10,141 acre #HalfwayHillFire near Fillmore, UT showed more moderate fire behavior Sunday. The Virginia Hills subdivision is still under evacuation until fire managers and the Millard Sheriff are confident residents can return to their homes safely. pic.twitter.com/nI4hH5RLL5— Utah Fire Info (@UtahWildfire) July 11, 2022
Darrie Rae Dewolf, 35, Tyler Russel Smith, 30, Taylon Lance Kessler, 30, and Michael Joseph Patti, 30, were taken into custody and charged with an abandoned fire causing property damage of more than $1,000.
Dry Creek Fire: Burning about 30 miles north of the Halfway Hill Fire, also in Millard County, is the Dry Creek Fire, which officials say scorched over 1,800 acres as of Monday and was 40% contained.
Just east of the small community of Oak City, the Dry Creek fire caused evacuations of nearby campgrounds, although no homes were evacuated yet.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, although officials say it started on private land, then spread to U.S. Forest Service land.
“Firefighters will continue to work on securing the fire edge. There is still some heat surrounding the campground and on the remote ledges. Smoke will still be visual but minimal,” fire officials said Monday.
Sardine Fire: Burning in Cache County, the Sardine Fire grew to about 50 acres and prompted an evacuation order in the neighborhoods near Sardine Canyon where flames came within no more than a football field of some homes.
By Sunday evening, fire officials said the blaze was roughly 80% contained and the evacuation order lifted.
Fires burn across the West
Washburn Fire threatens Yosemite’s giant sequoias: The fire burning next to California’s Yosemite National Park doubled in size over the weekend to 2,340 acres, prompting crews to install sprinkler systems and water the ground to protect the area’s iconic sequoia trees.
On Sunday, the Washburn Fire entered Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove, home to more than 500 giant sequoias, some which the park service says are likely more than 2,000 years old. An evacuation order is also in effect for the community of Wawona, south of the park.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Electra Fire burns over 4,000 acres in Northern California: As of Sunday night, Cal Fire reported the Electra Fire, the country’s only Type 1 incident, was 85% contained and rescinded most mandatory evacuations in Amador and Calaveras counties.
Still, an estimated 430 structures remained threatened, Cal Fire says, and an evacuation order remains in effect near the fire perimeter.
Cal Fire says full containment should be expected July 16.
Nevada’s Becky Peak Fire grows: The Becky Peak Fire burning in the Schell Creek Range just over the Utah-Nevada border was mapped at about 600 acres Saturday night — by Monday, it grew to nearly 6,000 acres.
No structures are threatened by the fire, according to the Elko Daily Free Press, which is burning in and out of a remote wilderness area.