Dollar Ridge Fire Is Dangerous, Fast Moving: Evacuations Ordered

Jul 3, 2018

The Dollar Ridge wild fire burning in Duchesne County started on private property in Wasatch County on Sunday afternoon.  It’s burned 30,000+ acres since, with zero containment.  The classification has been moved up to a Type 1 with the team arriving Tuesday night. Carolyn Murray has this:

With hot dry weather, steep terrain, high winds, and the current fuel conditions, the Dollar Ridge Fire has moved quickly and in multiple directions. Evacuations have been put in place in several subdivisions in the area. Strawberry Gorge, Camelot Resort, The Currant Creek Subdivision and the Pinyon Ridge Subdivision are under mandatory evacuation. The fire has exhibited long range spotting which means flames can jump a distance up to half mile and have already jumped roads and fire lines. Winds blowing from the southwest have made it very smoky, with air quality alerts in areas of the Uintah Basin.

Wasatch County Fire Chief, Ernie Giles told KPCW the fire has mostly burned Forest Service Land but jumped the Strawberry River on Monday.

“About 80 percent have been on forest and the rest on private but it did reach the Wild Strawberry.  sTarted on the north side of the river and that’s when it burned up to the cabins.”

Giles hasn’t seen a Type 1 fire designation in the 30 years he’s been with the fire district.   He says the conditions are severe and that Crews have to back off containment efforts during the day when the winds kick up.  Gusts are expected to hit 35 to 40 miles per hour which has made it dangerous and fast moving.  Helicopters and fixed wing aircraft can’t safely fly in those conditions.

   “Turned it over to a Type 1 which means FEMA will be involved in it. It’s huge.  It’s like a California fire. Type 1 uses more resources, a bigger pool to get larger aircraft in. It puts us on more of a priority list.  I don’t know that Wasatch County has ever had a Type 1 fire.”

Giles says the aircraft are dropping retardant and doing defensive work from the air to protect property. They don’t have a count of how many structures have been burned but they know there has been property loss. He says the winds pick up around 11 am and the blaze becomes very dangerous. The fire fighters have to retreat from the containment work but they work up the flank of the burned areas.

       03ernie1          :16           “..crazy yesterday..”

“I mean we try to be a little more proactive with them so we can stay ahead of the game.  When the fire’s traveling and a 35 mile and hour wind is blowing, it creates its own.  It was running up those canyons like crazy yesterday.”  

They’ve had a couple hundred people working on the fire including about 20 from the Wasatch Fire District. Giles says they don’t know the cause of the fire yet but it is under investigation. 

Giles says the conditions make this a dangerous fire.

“It’s not worth somebody’s life.  I told them if we don’t catch it today, we’ll catch it tomorrow.  If we don’t catch it tomorrow, we’ll get it next week and if not next week, next month.”

The state forester has issued a Fire Restriction Order in Summit County, restricting all open burns, including the use of all fire-works, cutting, grinding and welding.  This includes cigarette smoking unless the area is clear of vegetation. For more information go to summitcounty.org/firewarden