Wildfires keeping crews busy across southcentral Utah

Wildfires keeping crews busy across southcentral Utah

06 June 2012

published by www.sltrib.com

 USA —  When Steve Lutz, heard his Teasdale home, an “old wood building,” was in harm’s way of a wild fire, he dropped everything at his day job as assistant director of the Utah Fire Rescue Academy and headed south.

“When the south winds picked up, the small fire went from 20 acres to currently 2,300 acres and it was heading directly toward our town,” Lutz said. “It was incredible fire explosive behavior. I’ve never seen that bad of fire behavior.”

The Lost Lake Fire began Sunday and its cause still under investigation. On Wednesday, it continued to elude control of firefighters in western Wayne County, four miles southwest of Teasdale and northwest of Capitol Reef National Park. The fire changed to a Wilde’s type 2 Incident Management Team, the second highest fire level. Trails, roads and sections surrounding the fire area — which included portions of the Donkey Reservoir, Wildcat Trail and Coleman Reservoir districts — were closed to aid access for fire crews and for public safety.

The fire was sending flying embers miles away, starting spot fires. Hot ashes were falling as far away as Torrey, three miles away from the fire, Lutz said.

“It was like a giant waterfall of smoke coming down the mountain into our town yesterday,” he said. “It was hellish … the smoke came in through every crack in your home.”

Eight homes, including one about a quarter of a mile away from the fire, remained in forced evacuation Wednesday night.

Others, like Carol Gnade and her partner Lorraine Miller, opted for a voluntary evacuation Tuesday to get away from the thick smoke. Gnade, who has asthma, said she took the sheriff’s office advice that people with breathing problems may want to get away.

“I would not say we are directly in harm’s way, unless of course if the wind changes direction,” Gnade said. “Things can change very quickly.”

Northwest winds Wednesday pushed the fire away from Teasdale.

“The big fear is what happens Friday,” Lutz said, adding that a cold front is expected with south winds similar to Tuesday’s weather. In the meantime, crews worked to mitigate any potential danger to properties in the area.

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