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Utah wildfire has burned nearly 40,000 acres

The Associated Press
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, CO

NEOLA, Utah ” A deadly wildfire in northeastern Utah grew to more than 62 square miles Tuesday, although much of the expansion occurred in the Ashley National Forest and away from small rural communities, officials said.

Since Friday, when three people were killed, the fire has burned nearly 40,000 acres, about one-third in the national forest and the rest on a mix of private and public lands and the Uintah and Ouray Indian reservations.

The fire is burning north of Neola, about 100 miles east of Salt Lake City.



Fire officials want to let the fire burn to clear out dead trees in the national forest. Some small communities in the area still were under a mandatory evacuation.

“We might have fire out there on that mountain this whole summer,” said Kim Martin, incident commander.



Gov. Jon Huntsman toured the fire Tuesday and said he was pleased with the progress made in protecting homes.

“We’ve had a difficult and a traumatic few days,” he told reporters. “Some states get hurricanes, some get tornadoes. We get wildfires and they are no different in terms of devastating consequences.”

He deployed 100 National Guard troops Monday to enforce road blocks and assist local police away from the flames.

Parts of the forest and several roads leading to the fire were closed to the public. It’s unclear how many buildings have burned, and the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

Low humidity and temperatures in the 90s helped the fire grow. Those conditions were expected to remain throughout the week.

Huntsman has prohibited fireworks on state land but said he would not declare a statewide ban on private land, leaving it up to local governments.

He has asked the Utah Highway Patrol to be vigilant in searching for illegal, large-scale fireworks. Many Utah residents buy fireworks in Evanston, Wyo., and illegally bring them into the state.

The maximum penalty is six months in prison and a $1,000 fine.

“I think we’re doing absolutely everything possible,” Huntsman said when asked a broader fireworks ban.


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