BOX ELDER COUNTY, Utah -- A wildfire in Box Elder County burned more than 1,000 acres Monday afternoon.
It started around mile marker 32 on I-84 and spread from there, damaging grazing lands and threatening several structures.
“We saw the smoke and figured we better come out here and see what was happening,” said Calvin Hunsaker, a retired farmer who owns a portion of the land damaged by flames.
Dry conditions and high winds helped the fire spread to approximately 1,100 acres before fire crews were able to contain it. According to Hunsaker, the summer wildfires are a recurring problem for the area.
“That’s what this country is,” he said. “There’s no irrigation out here, and you have all these dry hills around. And if you have a real wet spring then you’re going to have a lot of grass, and it just feeds the fuel for the fire.”
Initially, fire officials were concerned the winds would steer the flames in the direction of nearby barns and sheds, however, a change in the weather pattern sent the fire in another direction.
“Anytime we got fire, wind, dry hot weather, a fire can be pretty unpredictable. It does its own thing,” said Jason Curry of the Utah Division of Forestry.
Thirty firefighters spent the evening digging fire lines and setting backfires to create a buffer between damaged land and salvageable property. By 7:00 p.m., they were able to contain the flames and prevent them from spreading further.
“All of these people you see here are volunteers, and they got some big equipment out here and it’s nice,” Hunsaker said.
Curry said because the fire began along I-84, it was most likely started by a “human cause.” Officials were considering the possibility a vehicle driving by sparked it, but it was too early to make that determination Monday evening.