Neola, Utah, USA — Fire authorities said they hoped a wildfire that haskilled three people and charred 62 square miles would clear dead trees in anational forest, even as hundreds of people continue to join the fight againstit.
One official said Tuesday that the fire might continue for the rest of theseason. Some small communities in the area of northeastern Utah still were undera mandatory evacuation.
“We might have fire out there on that mountain this whole summer,”said Kim Martin, incident commander.
The number of firefighters had risen Tuesday to more than 700, with moreexpected to arrive to help protect homes and control the burn.
Since Friday, when three people were killed, the fire has burned nearly40,000 acres, about one-third in the Ashley National Forest and the rest onprivate and public land and the Uintah and Ouray Indian reservations.
The fire is burning about 100 miles east of Salt Lake City, and officialssaid Monday evening that it was about 10 percent contained. It grew by nearly 8square miles overnight, but most of the expansion was away from communities,officials said.
Gov. Jon Huntsman toured the fire Tuesday and said he was pleased with theprogress made in protecting homes.
“We’ve had a difficult and a traumatic few days,” he told reporters.”Some states get hurricanes, some get tornadoes. We get wildfires, and theyare no different in terms of devastating consequences.”
He deployed 100 National Guard troops Monday to enforce road blocks andassist local police.
Parts of the forest and several roads leading to the fire were closed to thepublic. It’s unclear how many buildings have burned, and the cause of the firewas still under investigation.
Low humidity and temperatures in the 90s helped the fire grow. Thoseconditions were expected to remain throughout the week.