500 homes threatened; Washington County residents under voluntary evacuations

Posted at 10:10 AM, Jun 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-24 23:29:17-04

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah - The Saddle Fire grew to 1,193 acres Friday night as voluntary evacuations for Pine Valley remained in effect,  and firefighters said the blaze is 5 percent contained.

Fire officials plan to meet with the public on Saturday, June 25 at 10 a.m. at the Central Fire Station to give updates, and discuss what happens from here.

The flames are putting more families on high alert, but at least one group is staying put.

"We're Woodruff's, we're not wimps!" Kimberly Cutler said.

The family has been planning a reunion for six years, and with branches of the family from multiple states all in Pine Valley for the occasion, they don't plan to budge until they absolutely have to.

"Last night watching it come down the mountain, that was ominous looking," she said. "It wasn't quite front row seating, but, yeah, it was kind of scary."

Officials said at this point evacuations are not mandatory, but strongly encouraged. Crews continue to attack the fire from the air while ground crews set up fuel breaks in hopes of confining the fire to the mountain. Fire officials said their efforts may go on for the foreseeable future.

"This is an area that's gonna have, you know, smoke for a while," Christian Venhuizen, the PIO for the Saddle Fire, said.

Cutler said those smoky conditions make the trip memorable.

"Each reunion you have like, something that went on that year, it's like, 'Oh, yeah! Remember the fire reunion year?!'"

Flames entered the canyon despite aerial firefighting efforts to suppress a spot fire that burned just east of Lloyds Canyon.

Fire crews said at least 500 homes are threatened at this time.

The Dixie National Forest remains closed.

More: Fire restrictions for parts of Washington County

Wildfire Fact Sheet - Saddle Fire

Fire Information: Fire information is posted at the Central Fire Station, Veyo Market, Veyo Sinclair Station, Pine Valley Recreation Area, Pine Valley Heritage Center, Pine Valley Post Office, Enterprise Sinclair Station, Enterprise Post Office, and the Enterprise Ace True Value Hardware Store.

Fire Background: Started by a lightning strike, June 13, 2016, approximately 2.5 miles southwest from the town of Pine Valley in the Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness of the Dixie National Forest

Incident Management: Bill Hahnenberg, Incident Commander with the National Incident Management Organization. Saddle Fire is burning on the Pine Valley Ranger District of the Dixie National Forest.

Saddle Fire map - Washington County, Utah

Saddle Fire map - Washington County, Utah

Fire Size: 954 acres, as of June 24, 2016 (Note: one acre is equivalent to one football field).

Evacuations: Washington County Sheriffs Office has issued a voluntary evacuation order for the town of Pine Valley. Property owners are encouraged to prepare to evacuate if conditions change.

Estimated Costs to Date: $2.1 Million.

Closures: Pine Valley Recreation Area, Dixie National Forest; Baker Reservoir (closed to the public); Grass Valley Road from Pinto to Pine Valley; Mahogany Road; entry to the town of Pine Valley is restricted to property owners only.

Structures: 500 structures threatened including homes and outbuildings.

Percent Contained: 0 percent.

Fuels/terrain: Heavy dead and downed timber, brush, surrounded by steep and very rocky terrain.

Fire Crews/Resources: Six Type I Interagency Hotshot Crews, three Type II handcrews, seven Type II initial attack crews, one National Incident Management Organization Team with a Type III incident management team, nineteen engines, three Type III Helicopters, two Type I Helicopter, one dozer, three water tender, one air attack, 4 single engine air tanker (S.E.A.T.), three Type II air tankers. 500 personnel assigned.

Injuries: No injuries have been reported.