Update: 1:25 p.m. 9/21/18
The National Interagency Fire Center continues to track nine fires in Utah, totalling 131,535 acres, which is roughly 205 square miles. More than 1,700 personnel are battling the flames.
Most of the personnel — 1,895 — are members of the two Type 1 teams fighting the Bald Mountain and Pole Creek fires, which together have charred over 116,000 acres, or 181 square miles, in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Type 1 teams are assigned to the most severe and complex fires, and so far they have been able to bring the Pole Creek fire to 32 percent containment. The Bald Mountain fire is unchanged from Thursday. It's listed as 12 percent contained.
As of Thursday evening, US-89 is open in both directions between the US-6 Junction and MP 302 (3 miles South of Birdseye). US-6 is currently open.
Officials reported late Tuesday that the two fires were especially active because of gusting winds and "very active to extreme fire behavior." Meanwhile, the forecast for Wednesday is calling for more red-flag conditions that could spread the fire even more.
"Crews will continue aggressive suppression efforts and structure protection, particularly in Little Diamond Fork Canyon and up Wanrhodes," a Facebook post on the Pole Creek page said Tuesday night. "However, firefighter and public safety remains the primary objective."
US-6 was shut down Sunday when the Pole Creek Fire jumped the road. US-89 remained closed as firefighters worked to contain the Pole Creek and Bald Mountain Fires, which have burned more than 90,000 acres combined.
Parts of Hobble Creek Canyon were evacuated Sunday. Evacuation orders remained in place for about 5,000 people in Woodland Hills, Elk Ridge and the Covered Bridge community.
Right Hand Fork of Hobble Creek Canyon is now under mandatory evacuation order. Left Hand Fork of Hobble Creek is under Pre-Evacuation notice. Shortly before 2:00 PM this afternoon the Pole Creek Fire jumped US Hwy 6 and is well established on both sides of Hwy 6.
— Spencer Cannon (@SGTCannonPIO) September 17, 2018
More than 430 personnel are fighting the Pole Creek Fire, including two Type I fire management teams and six helicopters. No homes or structures have been lost.
“This is a hard fire to fight” due to steep terrain and strong wind gusts that fan flames and ground firefighting aircraft, Gov. Gary Herbert said Friday.
“We have a lot of structures in the pathway of the fire and that could be very, very devastating if we can’t contain it,” Herbert said. No homes have been affected so far, but on Thursday the fire melted part of a fence near a home.
The Pole Creek Fire was sparked by lightning on Sept. 6. After days of dry weather conditions and wind, the fire exploded on Thursday and is expected to keep growing. On Tuesday it had torched 74,509 acres, according to Inciweb. The nearby Bald Mountain fire had burned 15,635 acres. Officials say the two fires may merge.
Several state and local officials have criticized the U.S. Forest Service for allowing the fire to burn for several days early this month before it doubled in size Thursday.
“More inept decision-making by the Forest Service who decided to try and ‘manage’ this fire and let it burn instead of suppression — during one of the worst droughts in recent history,” lieutenant governor Spencer Cox wrote in a tweet Thursday.
More inept decision-making by the Forest Service who decided to try and “manage” this fire and let it burn instead of suppression—during one of the worst droughts in recent history. Now raging out of control, homes are threatened and Highway 89 is closed. https://t.co/L5PI11kQOS
— Spencer Cox (@SpencerJCox) September 13, 2018
This post will be updated.