After more than four days of battling a fire in Middle Canyon, firefighters have held the growth of the blaze in check and improved containment by Tuesday morning.
A revised estimate on the scope of the fire has it pegged at 171 acres, according to Bruce Andersen, spokesman for the state Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. By Tuesday morning, fire crews had 56-percent containment on the fire, up from 35 percent from the previous morning.
Containment remains the focus for firefighters, who will also be on the lookout for spot fires, according to Andersen. A tenth-acre spot fire was stirred up outside the fire perimeter on Monday, which was quickly extinguished by ground crews and air support.
There are 101 personnel assigned to the fire as of Tuesday, with resources including six engines, two hand crews, a hotshot crew and a helicopter, according to Andersen.
In a Tuesday morning update, Andersen said there are still areas within the fire perimeter that are burning with visible smoke, but the signs of smoke should not be alarming.
Middle Canyon Road remains closed from Tooele City to Butterfield Pass. Andersen said work crews have begun to chip up vegetation near the canyon road that was cut during firefighting operations.
The Middle Canyon Fire has been deemed a human-caused fire and anyone with information on the cause of the fire should contact the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office at 435-882-5600.
The fire was first reported by a UTV rider coming down Middle Canyon Road around 9 p.m. Thursday, according to North Tooele Fire District spokesman Ryan Willden. The fire quickly grew to 88 acres within hours and threatened two homes, sparking evacuations on Grimm Hill Road and Cassity Drive.
Janet Vincent was among those forced to evacuate her home around 11:30 p.m. as the fire came over the saddle on the west side of the canyon. She said firefighters told her to leave her home, so she and her husband gathered their vehicles, trailers and important items before departing.
“It was very scary,” Vincent said. “I’ve been through that before.”
Vincent said she evacuated to her daughter’s home in Tooele City as the fire continued to encroach on family properties along Cassity Drive. She said her family gathered together and watched the fire throughout the night.
On Friday morning, Vincent said a family member heard on the scanner that other evacuees were being allowed back on their properties, so she went back to her home around 5 a.m.
Vincent said she wasn’t sure if her home had been destroyed in the fire until she arrived at her property. The fire had come close to her garage but nothing was damaged.
In the aftermath of the evacuation, Vincent said the support from the community has been great. She said she has received offers for food and other aid, and everyone she’s spoken with has been wonderful.
Vincent also thanked the fire crews and other first responders who saved her property and continue to battle the fire.
“I have a whole different appreciation for our fire department,” she said.
Fire crews from North Tooele Fire District, Tooele Army Depot Fire Department, Tooele City Fire Department, federal Bureau of Land Management, and state Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands have all responded, according to Willden. During the peak of operations, there were three airplanes and two helicopters dropping retardant and water on the wildfire.