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First local wildfire of 2022 is reminder to be careful as outdoor season ramps up

Flatline Fire
Ben Lasseter
/
KPCW

The Flatline fire appears to be under control after starting Sunday afternoon north of Heber. But it’s early in the season and what’s thought to be a human-caused fire could have been much worse if vegetation had been less green.

UPDATED at 5:20 p.m. The Flatline fire is now about 30% contained. Earlier estimates of acreage burned were high - GPS tracking today found that 25 acres have burned, and the fire is contained and not growing. About 55 people are working at the site, and a helicopter did two bucket drops on a hot spot at the fire's center earlier. Crews will work tonight till 8 or 9 p.m., according to Mike Eriksson.

Eriksson, Public Information Officer for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, says they expect the fire to be nearly contained by Monday night.

“The weather really helped us out last night,” Eriksson said. “The firefighters didn't get off the line last night 'til a little after midnight, they were conducting a couple of burn operations to tie some corners together. They had the dozer out there. It's looking really good. I can say we stopped the forward progress to the fire last night. And honestly, the drive up this morning, you can’t even see smoke on the fire.”

The fire is located near mile marker 12 on U.S. 40, just below the Jordanelle dam on the west side of the highway about two miles away from the Mayflower Mountain Resort construction. It has been called the Flatline fire since it started near a trail by that name.

The only threat to infrastructure, Eriksson says, was to U.S. 40 itself, which had to be closed for about five minutes when dropping retardant from a tanker plane. The fire came within 1/4 mile of the highway.

He says at this point, they have ruled out lightning as the cause of the fire.

“We got the investigators out here last night,” Eriksson said. “They took an initial look at it and did confirm it is human caused. It's still under investigation. They're going to be out here this morning, taking another look at it, you know, under the light of day with some different eyes and see if they can find some more evidence on that. But I don't think we'll hear a report from that for probably quite some time, but it was human caused.”

Crews will be out with a GPS tracker Monday to get a better estimate of the number of acres burned. Eriksson believes it will be less than the 85 acres reported earlier. He also expects that the containment numbers will go way up by end of day.

With Memorial Day coming up Eriksson reminds those headed outside to be very careful with campfires, target practice or driving ATVs.

“We've had fires start from horseshoes before – out there in parts of Summit County before,” he said. “So, just be very careful and diligent when you're out there and doing anything with fire that may start a fire. You know, have an extinguisher or something with you a shovel or a tool or some water to help make sure things are extinguished before you leave."

A portion of the fire was located on Wasatch Mountain State Park property and some of it was on Bureau of Reclamation lands.