DUCHESNE – As of Thursday afternoon, fire officials say the Dollar Ridge Fire has burned more than 42 thousand acres, damaged up to 90 homes, and is only four percent contained.
The current concern is the weather. Wednesday, wind gusts reached 35 miles an hour, which quckly spread the flames around. Thursday, the winds were not as strong, but, scattered thunderstorms appeared over the area. Spokesperson Bobbie Filbert says there wasn’t enough moisture in the storms to help fire crews in containing the Dollar Ridge Fire. In fact, the storms may have made things worse.
“If we end up with thunderstorms over the fire, we could end up with gusty outflow winds, which are very erratic and very difficult,” she says.
Fire Spokesman Don Jaques says their crews are making good progress creating fire breaks. They’ve bulldozed property on the western border of the fire and they’ve burned off some vegetation around Currant Creek. However, erratic winds can spread fires much farther than people think.
“If we have strong winds that are 30 to 40 miles an hour, they can cause spotting from where [the fire] is located at to half a mile away,” Jaques says.
Some evacuees were given a short two-hour window to go back to their homes to check on their property and get any essential items they may have left behind. Bryan Dumas was able to check on his chickens and was able to retrieve testosterone shots he left behind.
“Later on, you think, ‘Oh, I forgot this and this.’ Luckily, today, they gave us a couple more hours to be able to go up there and grab the stuff that we did forget,” Dumas says.
Others like Nedra Piep were also allowed to see if their homes were still standing. Her daughter, Neddy Street went with her, just to give her peace of mind.
“It’s a pain in the butt, because you know that you’ve got so many belongings, and you can’t grab everything,” Street says.
Community members hope to learn more about the fate of their homes during a public meeting at Duchesne High School.
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