Utah Fire Destroys Campground, Motel
A wildfire destroyed a campground and motel in central Utah and quickly scorched thousands of acres in Juab and Sanpete counties, forcing an airlift of 18 Boy Scouts and hikers from Nephi Canyon, according to the Summit Daily News.
“They’d had to get up in some real rough, rocky area to get away from the fire, so it could have been bad. But with quick work by the helicopters, they were able to get out,” said Bert Hart, a spokesman at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
By today (July 20), a day after the airlift, the fire had consumed 20 square miles, or more than 13,000 acres, officials reported.
The fire began Thursday in a campground in Salt Creek Canyon, 85 miles south of Salt Lake City. The campground, a motel and several vehicles were destroyed, the U.S. Forest Service said.
All campgrounds and cabins along the 32-mile Nebo Loop, a scenic road in Uinta National Forest, were evacuated.
The cause still was under investigation, but there was a report of a car shooting sparks from the brakes, Clark said.
At the roadblock on Utah 132, just east of Nephi, Vicki Vert said smoke filled her house overnight and obscured the view of a hospital about 300 yards away.
“It was hazardous even coming into work” because of poor visibility, said Vert, who manages the Tesoro gas station at the roadblock.
Utah 132 is an access route to the Uinta National Forest and to private land. There were scattered evacuations of expensive homes and summer cabins in the area. Just across from the gas station, golfers were playing on velvety green grass.
Forecasters called for another day of 100 degrees or more throughout Utah.
“It only takes a cigarette or a match and this stuff will explode,” said Fred Burns, owner of Burns Brothers Ranch RV Resort in Fountain Green.
Burns had to turn away people from other campgrounds. The resort was not in the fire’s path and booked solid for the weekend.
In southwestern Utah, fires that began in the backcountry of Zion National Park spilled into private land and other federal parcels. The Dakota Hills fires have burned more than 8,000 acres, or 12.5 square miles.
Evacuations were ordered and some structures were threatened, although numbers were not immediately available.