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Governor calls for huge response to Pole Creek fire

(Jeffrey D Allred, Derseret News)

SPANISH FORK – Governor Gary Herbert is praising the hard work of fire crews trying to knock down the Pole Creek and Bald Mountain fires in southern Utah County, but, he’s calling for many more fire fighters to come and assist.

Pole Creek and Bald Mountain are currently the number one and number two priority fires in the entire country.  Currently, they’ve burned over 68 thousand acres, combined.  Governor Herbert says this will ensure more planes and more people to come fight them.  He believes there could be a thousand people working on it.

“I don’t believe we’ve ever had a fire that has had that many Type 1 personnel come to fact fight the fire.  So, this is an extraordinary event,” Gov. Herbert says.

He says the response has to be huge, since there are so many families living in the evacuated areas.

“There are hundreds of homes in the pathway of a very devastating fire.  If they burn, we will have the biggest loss, monetarily, in the history of the state of Utah,” he adds.

Fire managers say they were shocked at how cooperative the weather was.  Incident Commander Marty Adell says they didn’t expect to be able to fly air tankers and helicopters over and around the flames, but, they were able to have the aircraft making their drops on a regular rotation.

(Jeffrey D Allred, Deseret News)

However, he can’t promise they’ll be able to keep that rotation going over the next few days.  He says, “The air tankers will be solely dependent on the weather conditions.  If we can, we will definitely be using them, but, we have red flag warnings, again for high winds, as well as tomorrow, just like the previous two days.”

The communities of Woodland Hills, Elk Ridge and Covered Bridge are still under a mandatory evacuation order, while Spanish Oaks is still under pre-evacuation.  Adell can’t say if he expects more evacuations to happen.

“That is a constant call we make on a minute by minute basis.  We’re watching the fire activity and trying to anticipate where that fire is going to go,” he says.