Water Tower Fire near Alpine burning on 397 acres, blaze is 25% contained

Posted at 2:22 PM, Jul 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-17 00:09:44-04

UPDATE: Fire officials said Sunday night the Water Tower Fire is now estimated to be burning on 397 acres, though earlier in the day they reported the estimated size of the fire at 505 acres.

The blaze is 25 percent contained Sunday night, and firefighters say the fire has moved away from homes and they are concentrating their efforts on hot spots higher up the mountainside. The steep terrain means fire crews must make a difficult hike to reach those hot spots.

Fox 13's Lauren Handley was at the scene of the fire Sunday night, see the video above for her report.

Previous story continues below:

UTAH COUNTY -- Around 120 people in 25 homes have been able to return to their houses just before 4 p.m. Sunday, after they were evacuated due to a wildfire near Alpine.

Officials said Sunday afternoon the blaze is 505 acres and growing. It was last listed at 3 percent contained, according to fire officials.

"We're getting anybody from airplanes in the sky, to helicopters, to hotshot crews on the ground, engines on the ground-- Anything we can to get this out," said Shayne Ward, a spokesperson for the Water Tower Fire.

Firefighters say the Water Tower Fire was sparked Saturday night by target shooters on a mountainside east of Alpine.

Twenty five homes near Bald Mountain Drive and Preston Drive were evacuated, with residents saying firefighters came to their homes to evacuate them around 3 a.m. Sunday.

"When we saw how fast it was spreading south towards our house, we knew​," said Penny Linford. She said her family packed up Saturday night in anticipation of an evacuation.

They decided to leave at around 10:30 p.m. ahead of the that middle-of-the-night knock on the door.

"Our niece and nephew just moved from Florida, and my daughter and her family just moved here from D.C., and we've got a baby, and we've got 3 pets," Linford explained. "The idea of having a knock on door and having to split at the last second sounded kind of scary."

Airplanes have been making retardant drops Sunday, and helicopters have been using bucket scoops to bring water to the scene. The U.S. Forest Service says five engines, three hot shot crews and one 1-IA crew are assisting along with those air resources, which include National Guard Blackhawk helicopters.

Fire crews said a Type 3 Incident Management Team took over the fire around 4 p.m. due to the complexity of the terrain.

"We've got feds, Forest Service, State of Utah, a lot of local fire departments," Ward said. "Everybody is out here helping out."