Thunderstorms rolled into Tooele County Monday evening, sparking a pair of fires, including a 1,000-acre blaze that continues to burn.
North Tooele Fire District firefighters first responded to a brush fire at Grantsville Reservoir around 9:20 p.m. Once crews arrived on scene, firefighters did not observe an active fire and had to shelter in their vehicles due to the extreme lightning, according to NTFD spokesman Ryan Willden.
Grantsville City Fire Department crews were dispatched to investigate the area near North Willow Canyon for possible fire starts but didn’t observe any, Willden said. It’s common in lightning fires that trees can catch fire and smolder overnight, then reignite when exposed to wind and heat, he said, so firefighters will continue to monitor the area today.
Following the call to Grantsville Reservoir, NTFD crews were dispatched to a half-acre to one-acre fire near the north end of the Stansbury Mountains near Timpie, according to Willden. By the time crews arrived, the fire, which was sparked by lightning, was showing significant growth.
The wind shifted and pushed the fire downhill, toward a few structures in the area, including a couple of homes, Willden said. Fire engines were dispatched to defend the structures but the blaze, dubbed the Ellerbeck Fire, began to spread west, up and over the mountains.
There were no evacuations as a result of the fire and the structures near the fire are deemed safe for now, Willden said. A county bulldozer created a fire line around one residence and the other is not in immediate danger, and there is a plan for structure protection, he said.
By morning, the fire was over 1,000 acres, according to Willden. To combat the blaze, which is at only 15-percent containment, Bureau of Land Management crews and aerial support have been called in on the fire.
As the fire moves into upper elevations, hand crews and air support will be crucial, Willden said.
In addition to battling the wildfire, first responders had to deal with a possible search and rescue situation after dispatch received a report about someone had been driving a side-by-side in the area of the fire, Willden said.
Helicopters from AirMed and the state Department of Public Safety were called to the search, but about five minutes after the first helicopter arrived, the person driving the UTR was reported safe.