Local Newspaper "The Spectrum

Last modified on Oct 17, 2013

Firefighters continued their battle today with a 8,284-acre wildfire in Kane County that has forced evacuations, closed roads and remains at zero percent containment.

Interagency fire crews worked throughout the night on the “Shingle Fire,” which has threatened approximately 550 residences and a number of other structures in the past two days, forcing more than 1,000 people to evacuate from Swain’s Creek, Stout Canyon, Ponderosa Village, Harris Flat and Elk Ridge.

No injuries or destroyed structures were reported as of 5 p.m., but the fire was actively growing, progressing rapidly toward communities, major powerlines, U.S. Highway 89 and State Route 14, Marcia Gilles, public information officer with the Dixie National Forest, said in a press release.

Investigators determined that the fire started at 3:38 p.m. on Sunday in nearby Shingle Mill Canyon, due to a faulty ATV spark arrestor, Gilles said.

A type-two fire management team was brought in to help fight the blaze, with multiple aircraft and ground crews working to prevent any damage to structures. Gilles reported that helicopters, heavy air tankers, fire engines, hand crews and bulldozers were assigned to the fire, fighting to establish some kind of defense for the surrounding communities.

There were a number of road closures in place, including all of State Route 14 from U.S. Highway 89 to the Mammoth Creek Road junction. At one point, the Kane County Emergency Services office reported that power was cut to the area so firefighters could fight the blaze safely around power lines.

Mark Wilkening, fire information officer for the Color Country Interagency Fire Management Area, said fire crews expect the blaze to continue to grow in size today.

The Federal Emergency Mangement Agency authorized federal funds to help with the costs of the fire after it was determined the fire threatened to create a major disaster. It was the fifth time FEMA has approved such grants for a fire in Utah this year.

Fire officials say the moisture levels in the grasses and plants that fuel wildfires are at an all-time low. Combined with the region’s usual gusty winds, high temperatures and low humidity, those dry fuels create the potential for an especially dangerous summer.

Fire and fireworks restrictions are in place throughout state and federal lands, as well as in most municipalities. Gov. Gary Herbert and government officials across the state have called for caution, encouraging residents to do what they can to prevent fires.

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