As fire crews tried to slow the Pole Creek and Bald Mountain fires, which grew by more than 17,000 acres Friday night into Saturday, a new fire ignited in Herriman, burning homes and forcing evacuations.
As of Saturday afternoon, the Pole Creek and Bald Mountain fires in Utah and Juab counties had grown to a combined 86,107 acres. They have displaced approximately 6,000 people living in the Woodland Hills, Elk Ridge and Covered Bridge communities, in addition to those living along U.S. 89 from Nebo Creek to Thistle Junction, according to a news release from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
Those living in the Diamond Fork Canyon and Sheep Creek area have been put on pre-evacuation notice, according to the release.
The fire also forced officials to close U.S. 6 through Spanish Fork Canyon on Saturday. U.S. 89 in that area remains closed from mile marker 312 at Thistle Junction to the Utah-Sanpete county line.
Gov. Gary Herbert has said the two wildfires have the potential to be the most destructive of Utah’s fire season because of the numerous homes in the fires’ paths.
Hundreds of Type 1 firefighters flooded into the fire area Saturday hoping to suppress the blaze, but fire officials said at a community meeting Saturday evening that high winds hampered the crews’ efforts earlier in the afternoon and made it impossible to use any aircraft but helicopters.
Evans Kuo, with Great Basin Management Team 5, said during the meeting that firefighters haven’t been able to get close to the fire line on foot either because of high winds and rugged terrain.