Wildfire near popular Utah fishing lake burns 90 structures
By BRADY McCOMBS
SALT LAKE CITY — A wind-fueled wildfire burning through bone-dry vegetation near a popular fishing lake in Utah has burned about 90 structures, closed a stretch of highway and scuttled holiday and summer plans for countless people whose cabins are in the blaze’s path.
About 1,100 people have been impacted by the evacuations and a total of 1,000 homes are threatened in a blaze that grown to 66 square miles (171 square kilometers) near a popular fishing reservoir about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Salt Lake City, according to information from the Utah Department of Emergency Management
The burned structures likely include many homes and cabins, while others may be sheds or garages.
A 35-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 40 has been closed since Wednesday.
Scorching summer temperatures have contributed to how fast the fire has spread and made work difficult for firefighters, said Donald Jaques, a spokesman who works for the U.S. Forest Service. Temperatures were in the 90s again on Thursday.
“We have ripe conditions for extreme fire behavior,” Jaques said. “We’re at record, historic levels of dryness for that vegetation.”
The fire is 4 percent contained, the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands reported as of Thursday morning.
Officials believe the fire, which was reported Sunday, was caused by human activity, but an exact cause hasn’t been determined.
The wildfire is near Strawberry Reservoir, which has remained open for fisherman and visitors except for a period on Wednesday, when a portion of the lake was closed because planes were needed to scoop water from the lake to dump on the blaze.