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Fire officials lift evacuation order in Saddle Fire area

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Posted at 11:56 AM, Jun 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-23 18:41:06-04

PINE VALLEY, Utah — Evacuees in Pine Valley returned home Thursday after the Saddle Mountain fire threatened their homes earlier this week.

There were 185 structures in the Loyd Canyon neighborhood in the path of the wildfire, 100 of them houses. The majority of those were vacation homes, but 35 permanent residents were displaced.

Just half-a-mile away, the fire crept toward their back porches, consuming more than 800 acres.

"We appear to be the first ones to go if it does get to the properties," said George Graff, who owns a $200,000 cabin. "We recognize that that area has been ready for a fire for lots of years, decades in fact. We're not happy to have to go through this."

Graff said when he was evacuated on Tuesday he was agonizing over the question of if he would even have a cabin to come back to, and 48 hours later he was saying thanks.

"There has been a number of firefighters up there, they've done a tremendous amount of work around our place that we could observe, and I understand they've been doing that around the entire community," Graff said.

Large sprinkler systems were set up outside many homes by firefighters as a last-ditch effort to stop the flames if they got that close. Fortunately, those measures were not needed, but the danger isn't over yet. The fire remains zero percent contained.

"I'm sure this is a lot of good news for a lot of them, it's not over, we still have a lot of work to do, and they might be seeing smoke come off that mountain for a very long time," said Christian Venhuizen, Saddle Fire PIO.