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Cities affected by fire deal with damage
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Elite firefighters arrive to combat 2-massive fires which are about to merge

Credit: Dave R. Karpowitz

UTAH COUNTY – The Pole Creek fire, started by lightning, burned 400 acres on Wednesday and due to winds in excess of 30 mph quickly drove the flames across dry brush and grew the fire into an inferno that has consumed more than 54,000 acres as of 10 a.m. Friday morning.

The complexity and speed with which it’s growing turned it into a Type 1 Incident.  This means it is one of highest priorities in the nation and elite firefighters are now on the scene.  They have the most experience to deal with the most complex fires.

Yesterday a Type 1 Management team arrived to take command of the Pole Creek fire, and a second Type 1 Management team arrives today to work on the Bald Mountain fire, which has burned over 14,500 acres.  And these 2-fires were 3-miles apart from each other on Friday morning.

Acting forest fire management officer with the Uintah-Cache National Forest, Brook Chadwick says, “Depending on where these two fires touch, it could be really good or really bad.”

Chadwick went on to say, “having them merge near the Nebo

Loop Road would be the best because the perimeter would be much less and we have much less opportunity for fire growth at that point.”

U.S. Highway 6 was closed for most of Thursday but reopened early Friday.  However, U.S. Highway 89 remains closed through parts of Spanish Fork Canyon due to the Pole Creek Fire burning in the area.  And residents of three communities remain evacuated.

This video from Sgt. Spencer Cannon on Thursday shows how fast the wind is fanning the flames.

Chadwick says anyone adjacent to these fires in Utah and Juab counties need to be prepared in advance.  He says “if you can get out now, do so.  Don’t wait for sheriff notification.”  Or, at the very least, he says “pack everything you need and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.”

Last night, Spanish Fork residents were told they didn’t need to evacuate, but there was an area under pre-evacuation orders.  And those people with horses were told to bring them to the Spanish Fork fairgrounds in preparation.

Meetings for residents near the fire zones are occurring throughout the day.

UPDATE:  Saturday, September 15, 2018 —  the Pole Creek and Bald Mountain fires continue to grow.  Elected officials from Utah County will be submitting a crisis declaration on Saturday morning.

The Pole Creek Fire is at 62,844 acres and Bald Mountain Fire burned 17,760 acres as of 9am, Saturday.