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Aerial shot of the East Fork Fire
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Forest Service letting the East Fork Fire burn

The lightning-caused East Fork Fire continues to burn in the High Uintas Wildnerness Area. Photo: USFS

DUCHESNE COUNTY — Some of the smoke hovering over Duchesne County in northeastern Utah can be attributed to the East Fork Fire, which has been burning since August 21 about 13 miles north of Hanna, Utah near the Upper Stillwater Reservoir.

And at least for now, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is allowing the fire to burn, feeding at the upper elevation on heavy timber and a “large component” of trees that have been killed by beetle infestation.

“The fire is burning primarily in the High Uintas Wilderness and is being allowed to play its natural role in the ecosystem,” said the U.S. Forest Service in a statement.

“The area has not experienced a large fire in about 50 years, and there are a lot of standing dead trees that create hazards for wildland firefighters.”

(Capture: inciweb.nwcg.gov)

Allowing a fire to play a natural role in the ecosystem does not mean that firefighters aren’t paying close attention to the East Fork Fire. The USFS says there are 70 people who are helping to limit the spread of the fire outside of the wilderness area. That includes protecting nearby infrastructure, private property, and other assets near the fire.

Windy conditions on Saturday helped the East Fork Fire grow by 434 acres, with the total acreage consumed by fire now 4,151. On Sunday afternoon, the fire was 20% contained.

Photo: USFS

For the safety of the public as well as that of firefighting crews, portions of roads and trails remain closed in the immediate vicinity of the fire. These include portions of the Blind Stream Road (Forest Service Road 135), Rock Creek Road (FSR 134), and portions of the Highline Trail

The East Fork Fire was caused by lightning and is expected to be fully contained by Wednesday, September 30, 2020.