A fire east of Lake Point in the Oquirrh Mountains is now the largest active fire in the state, while firefighting operations work to contain the blaze.
As of Wednesday evening, the Green Ravine Fire had reached over 1,719 acres, with containment at only 10%, according to Jason Curry, spokesman for the state Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. The acreage estimate was made earlier Wednesday morning. The fire began Tuesday.
“There probably has been a little additional growth since that estimate, but not a whole lot,” Curry said.
The fire continues to track east toward Farnsworth Peak, but was slowed by light rain that fell last night, according to an update from Curry Thursday morning on utahfireinfo.gov.
There were 160 personnel battling the wildfire as of Wednesday evening, according to Curry. The personnel include hotshot crews, fire crews, engine crews and air support units, including three helicopters.
Resources being used to combat the fire are from a national pool, including out-of-state and out-of-area fire crews from federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service.
“We’ve put numerous retardant drops on the ridge tops,” Curry said. “We pretty much have the entire fire boxed in by retardant and handcrews reinforcing that retardant and building containment. So going forward, containment is expected to increase, acreage increases are expected to go down.”
The threat to homes at the base of the Oquirrh Mountains near the lower reaches of the fire has diminished, Curry said. Efforts have turned toward the ridge tops near the head of the fire.
Fire officials feel confident the communications towers on the Oquirrh Mountain’s peaks near the fire are safe from the blaze, according to Curry.
“Not only has fire progress slowed down significantly, but we do have personnel up there prepping the two track road that’s between the fire and the communications site,” he said. “So, it does look like they’ve got a really good plan in place that in the event the fire did get that close, that they’d have a really good defendable spot.”
The terrain is steep and rocky, which is making firefighter safety a priority, Curry said. Once fire crews are in position and safe, then protecting infrastructure, such as communications towers and power lines, will become the focus.
In addition to the unpredictable nature of any wildfire, a possible increase in winds due to an encroaching cold front could affect conditions, according to Curry.
“That’s when we saw the most significant growth today, was when we had that pretty sustained two-hour westerly wind,” Curry said. “It really developed fire and got things going in those drainages.”
In areas with additional fire growth, flames remain significant in size, but there was less fire activity lower down toward the valley. The area of the fire closest to homes is the least active, with few smoldering areas.
“Almost all of our fire activity has been up in the high country, in those heavier, thicker drainages that’ve got a lot of that Gambel oak and that mountain maple,” Curry said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.